I received this book for free from HarperCollins Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Published by Greenwillow Books on October 7th 2014
Genres: Gothic, Historical, Supernatural, YA
Source: HarperCollins Canada
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Madeline Usher is doomed.
She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.
In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.
The Fall was so very unique and the writing: wonderfully atmospheric. Having really enjoyed Bethany’s Masque of the Red Death (I have yet to read the sequel), I knew that I was in for a stunning read. Masque was very well written, gorgeous in its melancholy, really – and that’s what I love the most about these historically creepy novels: the way they enchant you into their eerie settings. The Fall was no exception. I felt transported into this ancient house which was truly a character in and of itself. I could see every crack and hear every faint footstep. You could say that I was sufficiently creeped out.
Madeline is living with a curse. A curse revolving around a house that feels alive and vengeful, a house they can never leave, yet never truly live in. It feels as if this family merely exists for the house to have someone to haunt, someone to torment and taunt. I loved the desperation and disorientation this brought on, the constant air of dread, of hopelessness. We learn of Madeline’s family history – as well as her own past – through flashbacks where we’ll see the POV switch to her younger self for a short chapter or two. This made her story unravel at a slow, yet compelling pace. The short chapters – lasting only a handful of pages each – made for an incredibly quick read. One that was very nearly impossible to put down. This slow pacing, however, does take its toll after a while. About half way through, I felt as though I was waking on a treadmill of fading promises with no end in sight. The storyline started getting repetitive, the mystery not progressing, always at arm’s length. It did eventually start moving forward towards the end where we finally get to see the tie-in with the dramatically exciting first chapter, followed by an ending that leaves you wide-eyed.
Regardless, the leisurely pace did not stop me from devouring this novel. I was kept in a trance by the bizarreness of this house and its evil presence. I loved building theories and doubting everything and everyone. I was also very impressed with the transformation of the characters we met in this story – the young doctor, especially, who started out an innocent young man wanting to unravel the mystery behind the family illness, only to become corrupted by the house’s malevolence. There were also hints of romance and maybe even incest, but that was only just another part of the house’s poison.
Haunting and mesmerizing, creepy in all the right places; The Fall has the perfect balance of mystery and mystique that will keep you turning the page. Plus, the writing itself is dark and irresistible and brilliantly atmospheric. Perfect for fans of Gothic novels and unusual mysteries.
4 Hot Espressos