Author: Bethany Griffin
Published: October 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Bought: Waterstones £12.99
Rating: four and a half stars
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?
*Synopsis from Goodreads*
This book had exactly the kind of vibe I like, I thought it was pretty damn good. Bethany Griffin was brilliant at creating that creepy, I'm-feeling-slightly-uneasy tone that continued right until the end. And it's a decent length, as well, so kudos.
If you're reading this book expecting some sort of happy resolution you'll get neither happy nor resolution. But you will get a very strong image of the terrifying Usher house and all its creepy, sentient glory. A house where nothing is new long and everything dies young. A house that has chosen Madeline Usher as its heir, and also tries to kill her a few times.
It was pretty haunting, I mean Madeline is very alone and apart from the rest of humanity. Her one saving grace, her brother Roderick, doesn't believe her at all despite some very blatant evidence. And let's face it, the whole dog thing had me in tears. There should be a rule about using animals in books.
Basically all family relations and otherwise are twisted as hell. I have got to say, Dr. Winston sufficiently weirded me out, he was quite simply vile. Madeline doesn't really ever catch a break, and some of the themes are pretty horrific and disturbing. No wonder I found this in the horror section, not the YA secion
But then again she's not a conventional YA heroine. She's really dark at times, and I thought that she had good character development, because you could tell that the house, her Usher lineage, was warping her over time. Luckily, she had determination on her side, and she was only naive to the extent that someone in her position would be. I also liked the variation created between the chapters in Madeline's age and the background story of Lisbeth.
The story does leave bits and parts unexplained, and up to the reader (the whole mad-man in the attic thing -though I could have a pretty good guess at that one- and her father's disappearance). I kind of liked it, it didn't feel like it was trying too hard to make everything suddenly fall into place, I don't think that would've suited the story's atmosphere at all.
My one niggling thing is that sometimes I felt like the story wasn't really getting anywhere. Sure the description and detail invested in the house kept me running on tension, but it all really only kicked off at the end. We were led on trails and then abruptly swerved off them again, especially with the whole goblet thing (how did Madeline know it had nothing to do with that anyway? - she got the resolution out of thin air, I swear).
But, overall I really, really enjoyed this book. The writing style was very attractive to me and the concept very creepy. I've never read Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, the book this is based off of, but I think I will now just to see how it ties in with this story.
Quote: "Sitting here I can feel the majesty of the house. It is so old. Looming over and around me. How can I stand up to it all alone?"