by Katrina Leno
From the author of You Must Not Miss comes a haunting contemporary horror novel that explores themes of mental illness, rage, and grief, twisted with spine-chilling elements of Stephen King and Agatha Christie.
Following her father's death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor's doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone...and more tormented.
As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident "bad seed," struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane's mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won't reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the "storage room" her mom has kept locked isn't for storage at all--it's a little girl's bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears....
Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more...horrid?
What in the bloody purgatory, did I just read?!? Um...I'm disturbed, to say the least. Yeah, that's it. Non-spoilery section completed. I'm done.
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! ABORT IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT YET!
This was, to say the least, an experience. And by experience, I mean poop-on-a-stick-this-was-so-hecking-creepy type of experience. I love this type of books, that goes without saying. I love how I can't read them at night (I have tried, trust me, insomnia for the win!), I love how they keep me on my toes, I just love them. And to be clear, the actual content of the book, was very interesting. I would've liked more explanations on certain things, although that's perhaps what makes this genre so intriguing. The characters were what really did me wrong. In the sense that they felt extremely distant, the book still gave me goosebumps, but the characters themselves could've been dead or missing and it would've changed nothing of the story. That's how insignificant I felt they were. Wow, I sounded so harsh... at least the little sister was good! Okay, let me organize my errant thoughts, seriously, I don't even like running but that's exactly what they're doing right now. Great, now they're calling Mr. Headache. Earth, you can swallow me now. Continuing, let me start at the beginning of this madness. I've been putting down reading this book because of the beginning. Let me tell you, the moment I read this messed up a sentence? That's it, I could not sleep. And obviously, like the great human being I am, I chose another book. A rom-com. All is fair in love and horror, no? So then I finished said book and I sat down and was like: What shall I read next *curling fictional mustache* Whom shall I harass next with my eyeshepres and like a gift from Zeus, light shone upon this horrific mess. So what did I do? I started reading it. And I kid you not, every time the sun went down, I would primly close my book, put it on a shelf (far away from me), and proceed to scare the crap out of myself, every time I had to go fetch a glass of water. Seriously, I'm not even joking, I even added background music in my brain to calm myself but no. That first sentence would continue to haunt me like that book I bought 5 months ago that's judgmentally staring at me from my TBR, sue me. After the sun was up and glaring at me like the bug it thinks I am (excuse you)then I can pick up where I left on the previous night. Let me talk about the tiny speck (more like a nonexistent possibility) of romance. It um...it was sweet? (Right about now, you may be thinking: Why in the world did she give the book a high rating if she was going to literally rant against it. For those people, I will say this: The scary aspect of the book was good, I may even say it was great. But the characters overall? Yeah, not that impressed) I was a bit sad that, THAT didn't develop into more of a friendship, because frankly, as much as I can remember about their relationship...is coffee. And a small episode in which she was going kinda insane, and he barged into her house like the bookish savior he clearly was. Apart from that? I don't think they had much to say to each other. Which is sad. On the other hand, there's her mother. Wow, I still don't know what to think of her. She was complex, to say the least. She was very much traumatized, which I can obviously understand cause that family? Was a bit cuckoo. Her way of acting is what made me a bit furious on Jane's behalf, to be honest. How many times did Jane ask if something was wrong? 5678 times (approximately) How many times did Jane say something was wrong with the house? (832y6423648326482 times, you know, approximately) Her friends were um... yeah. That's it. Of course SOME of them were fundamental to the story but others? Yeah, not so much. Now let's get down to the REAL reason I gave this book such a high rating. (finally, gosh)
It was the uncertainty, the questions, the intrigue. It was my confusion and asking myself about whether what was happening was real or a figment of the imagination. It was first thinking that the house was haunted and then being presented the option that maybe, the main character had schizophrenia. Goodness, THAT was what really messed with me. The supposed 'sister' being a ghost. Or not. The rose eating, the paper eating, the hair eating. That was what really freaked me out beyond repair. Still does, even after a while from reading it. And I HAD to wait awhile, too many emotions rampaging my frivolous brain. The way certain scenarios were described was what really chilled my spine and thank goodness gracious above for my (mostly) sane mind. That's what really encased this story in ice for me, the way the mystery and the creepiness factor was upped to a100 from chapter to chapter. To be honest, the rest of the book was meh (minus the 'sister' parts *horrified shudder*) but the ending? Phew, call the ambulance if you will. Goodness above was this such a different read from what I normally do. And the finishing sentences?!?! What in the H-E double toothpicks was THAT!?!?!
It's only fair, Jemina repeated.
And it was fair.
Jane could see that now.
So much of Jane's life had been unfair-Greer's death, the upheaval of their lives, their move across the country. But this.
This was fair.
She uncurled her hand. The rose petal glowed in the moonlight.
And Jane put the petal into her mouth.
Yeah, that's it. My heart? Dead. My brain? Dead. Everything? Dead.
The creepiness. At the end.
The cliffhanger. At the end.
The uncertainty. At the end.
P.S: Just would like to mention, that um... I still can't sleep. So yeah, thank you.