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Review: The Women In The Walls by Amy Lukavics

women-in-the-wallsThe Women In The Walls
Amy Lukavics
Simon & Schuster AUS
2016, 272p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

I have to admit, I don’t read a lot of horror. I’ve never read a lot of horror. Well ok, when I was much younger I read a fair bit of R.L. Stine. But that was a long time ago and it’s not a genre I gravitate to now and I haven’t read much over recent years that I feel really fits that description. So this was something a bit new for me and if I’d read this as a teen it would probably have freaked me out nicely.

Lucy is 17 and lost her mother at a very young age. Shortly after, her mother’s sister Penelope moved in with her daughter Margaret to help care for Lucy and manage the family manor. Lucy’s father married into a very old, wealthy family and is still seen as an outsider or usurper by the local members of a mysterious country club. His life revolves around throwing lavish parties for these members in an attempt to be respected and seen as one of them. In this dedication he neglects his daughter, leaving her primary upbringing to Penelope. When Penelope goes for a walk in the woods and doesn’t return, the already fractured household begins to spiral further out of control. Penelope’s daughter Margaret, already not the stablest person emotionally, begins acting even stranger. Lucy is left isolated and scared. Margaret has narrowed Lucy’s world until it was her and when she withdraws from Lucy, it means that Lucy has nothing left. She spends her days sitting in the library, staring out the window, waiting to see if Penelope is found.

This book took quite a grim swerve – it starts off pretty dark, with a death on the first page and then only gets worse. I was truly horrified by what happened to Margaret but I’m not sure that the tragedies were having the effect on Lucy as a character that they should’ve been. Even though she’d been brought up in a very ‘stiff upper lip, good breeding, don’t show anything’ type of way, it feels as though she should’ve shown more emotion at the tragedies that were happening in the house. And then she decides to start searching for information and with one google search on the family house, seems to acquire relevant information.

I can’t deny that the author did create a really creepy atmosphere within this house. In a way the house was kind of like a character in itself, stately and grand but with creepy hidden secrets within the walls. But the pacing dragged a little in places and raced in others and I had a little bit of a difficult time wrapping my head around the supernatural aspects, which was not something Lucy seemed to struggle with at all. I would’ve liked a slower, more thought out introduction to the supernatural side, something that unfolded thoughtfully rather than a few rushed ‘am I hearing things or not’ moments, a vague childhood memory and then full immersion in some pretty out there stuff. It felt a bit jarring because I was expecting more Jane Eyre than The Exorcist when I picked up the book.

This was just okay for me….it had its strong points but it also had weak points as well. It was a very quick read, it’s quite a slim book and I know it’s for younger adults but I think that some filler could’ve been cut from the middle, which is really just Lucy wandering around. Then the author could’ve expanded on areas like Margaret and Lucy’s friendship, which is alluded to but never really shown as they are almost virtually estranged when the book begins. Also some time could’ve been spent developing the supernatural story a little more. It just felt so rushed.


Book #206 of 2016


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