[A quick note: I am starting to realize that I need to read more gothic dark fantasy. I’ve never been one for the spooky stuff but both books I’ve read recently have got me rethinking my preferences. This debut was fantastic. And even cooler, the author lives in the same city as my older sister. Plus, isn’t this cover just so cool?!]
“𝐈 𝐬𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞. 𝐈 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐦𝐞𝐭, 𝐰𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐰𝐨𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐨𝐮𝐭. 𝐎𝐫 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞: 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦, 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐦𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐟𝐞𝐚𝐫, 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐮𝐩 𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐲.”
Tim burton meets Adam’s Family in this gothic fantasy about confronting the darkness within. Estranged for years, Eleanor Zarrin flees her boarding school to return to her family home. She must face her monstrous relatives who prowl the woods at night and read fortunes from the guts of dead birds. When her grandmother suddenly dies, she is the only one who can hold them together. Especially when a threatening arrival wants to swallow them whole.
A gothic haunted manor, ghosts, the undead, werewolves, and a girl who wants to understand what she is. There’s so much to love! This creepy book was exactly what I needed. It was fun, weird, and soaked with mystery. Rose Szabo writes to creates questions. Her style was perfect for this setting. Perfect for a story of discovery. I devoured this book in two sittings. I didn’t want to put the book down.
I knew I was going to love this story from the first pages of the prologue. I’m not generally a gothic dark fantasy reader. I hate scary movies. They’re too jumpy for me. I don’t read horror or scary books either. But this book reminded me a lot of Horrid, which I read back in October. It has just the right level of creep factor. It wasn’t as spooky-give-you-goosebumps as Horrid. But it still had that overall New England creepy gothic manor feel.
“𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐲 𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐤 𝐰𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐥𝐝. 𝐈 𝐬𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐞𝐳𝐞𝐝 𝐦𝐲 𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐬 𝐬𝐡𝐮𝐭, 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐟 𝐈 𝐬𝐡𝐮𝐭 𝐦𝐲 𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐬 𝐈’𝐝 𝐰𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐮𝐩 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐞𝐝, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐟 𝐈 𝐬𝐡𝐮𝐭 𝐦𝐲 𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐈’𝐝 𝐰𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐮𝐩 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐦 𝐚𝐭 𝐒𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐭 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐢𝐝’𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐈 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐬𝐡𝐮𝐭 𝐦𝐲 𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐮𝐩 𝐚 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧, 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐞, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐈’𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐲.”
I related with Eleanor’s character immediately. When she arrives home, it’s clear that the family is keeping secrets from her. She immediately feels like an outcast. She feels like no one wants her there. How many of us have had those feelings? The family dynamic, her internal conflict, and quest for answers about herself and those around her are all things that allowed me to connect with the story. Moreover, she’s struggling to confront something ghastly she’s responsible. The reason she fled the boarding school in the first place. This mistake follows her and she must face it to conquer her darkness. Her biggest struggle is wanting to be loved. She doesn’t feel loved by anyone.
“𝐈 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐬: 𝐢𝐧 𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬, 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐦𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐢𝐧 𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐨𝐫 𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐰𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐮𝐩.”
The plot was fast paced, well structured, and full of twists and turns. I had so much fun reading this story. It wasn’t quite a five star for me, just because it doesn’t have that complexity and layers. But it was absolutely enjoyable and I recommend it. Perfect for fans of Horrid, Tim Burton, Stephen King, and Adams Family. MY RATING: 4/5⭐️
A big thank you to Bookish First and Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan Publishing) for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.