Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Release Date - October 7, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  400 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
From the moment you open up The Fall and read Madeline's harrowing awakening inside a coffin you immediately know what you're in for. The tone, pacing and feel of the novel is laid out in one breathless, dizzying scene. Bethany Griffin has woven together a increasingly unsettling story that from start to finish leaves you fearful of the walls around you.

Every aspect of the novel from the writing style, characters, and pacing all combine to create the tone. The disjointed narration of the story only adds to the unease felt while reading. Each chapter is a different point in Madeline's life, checking in at various ages during her time at the house of Usher. This allows us to see a distorted progression of Madeline's decline, and keeps the tension tight. We know how this story is going to end (with Madeline buried alive) but taking the journey to get the whys and hows is made all the more unsettling by this narration choice.

It's hard to talk about Madeline as a character. She progresses as she ages and changes. The young girl is not the same as the young woman she becomes. A characteristic that remains constant, however, is how she doesn't just sit back. She does not want to be passive and let things happen to her. She doesn't want to be the victim. She wants to fight back. She has a strength to her that, even as her mental state is dwindling, never really leaves her.

A narrator like Madeline is, unsurprisingly, one of my favourites. She's unreliable. Her mental state is growing more and more unbalanced as the story progresses. The teasing thoughts of how much to believe, and how much is real is never far from the reader's mind. We are only seeing her version of events, and no matter how much you want to fight it, there is also that little nagging feeling of 'what if'. On the other side of this, the curse is explored fully, and we see the allure, and effect it had on people. We see everyone from the doctors, Roderick, and others succumb to the twisted desires of the house.

The closed in, claustrophobic feeling that seeps into every page is only heightened by the limited setting. There is the house, and the surrounding area that we get to explore. We see nothing outside of them, as Madeline sees nothing outside of them. It's repetitiveness only adds to the feeling that everything is closing in on Madeline, and by extension, the reader.

A novel that begs to be read with the lights on, and in open spaces, The Fall left me feeling claustrophobic. Bethany Griffin shows that she is the queen of capturing mood and atmosphere in her writing. This is one not to be missed this Halloween season, as it provides chills, thrills, and delicious writing.

1 comment:

  1. great review. I am really excited about this read. The claustrophobic feeling not so much, one of my fears, but I am sure i can get through it.


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