Monday, March 17, 2014

The Cellar by Natasha Preston

The Cellar by Natasha Preston
Release Date - March 1, 2014
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books/Sourcebooks Fire
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Nothing ever happens in the town of Long Thorpe – that is, until sixteen-year-old Summer Robinson disappears without a trace. No family or police investigation can track her down. Spending months inside the cellar of her kidnapper with several other girls, Summer learns of Colin’s abusive past, and his thoughts of his victims being his family…his perfect, pure flowers. But flowers can’t survive long cut off from the sun, and time is running out…
The Cellar is the stuff of nightmares. An edge of your seat read that kept my attention right up to it's somewhat rushed ending. A story of an heart stopping horror that is all too easily imagined. It creates a kind of tension that lingers, because it haunts you.

Summer is an average girl. She has a family who loves her, a boyfriend she cares about, and friends. She lives in a quiet town where nothing happens. Nothing, that is, until she's kidnapped. Her harrowing, chilling time held captive is the main portion of the novel, and it was exactly what it needed to be. It's tense, stomach churning, and bleak. The author makes Colin brutal, unhinged, and doesn't tone this aspect of the novel down. As his unraveling and paranoia grow, so does the tension felt within the reader. As the girls grow more unsteady, so does the reader. It's a compelling way to immerse the reader into the story. It allows them to place themselves in Summer's shoes, perhaps all too easily.

Summer's will to survive was impressive. She fought to retain her sense of self as everything unraveled around her. She and her follow captives did their best to help each other, and did form an interesting bond. Each of the girls was in various states and conditions. We get to see Summer's transformation and what kind of toll this situation would take on a person. As the time she's spent in captivity lengthens, it becomes an interesting look at desperation, and just how damaging going through something like this can be. Surviving is the main focus for these girls, and this novel shows exactly how strong the self preservation impulse is.

The tension really is the strongest aspect of the novel. As a result of the author being willing to allow her psychopath to truly be one, the reader is kept on edge. It's never clear if Summer is going to make it out. There are multiple narrators and you realize quickly that you could lose any of the characters during the events of the novel. Too often you don't feel that fear for the main character (or characters). It never feels like the stakes are high enough. I did with this novel. I felt that fear every second Colin was around.

Colin's chapters are engrossing, and fascinating. The author manages to capture his unsettling mind with vivid clarity. She steps into it with unflinching ease. It adds another layer to an already intriguing story and I really appreciated his perspective, as uncomfortable as it was to be is head.

There were moments where I wanted to explore other characters more than the novel allowed. We see a pattern emerge, and we see the beginning of that pattern, but inner workings of a certain character's minds remained illusive. I wanted to especially know more about each of the other 'flowers' Summer grows attached to.

The only issue, for me, was the end. I felt it came across as a little rushed. The end few pages were realistic and offered an ending that felt right for the story, however compared with the pacing of the rest of the novel it felt off. It created a disjointed ending that left me unsatisfied.

I've heard that this may end up being a series. My hope is that they are companion novels rather than a 'what happens next' type of sequel, as I felt this one wrapped things up rather quickly. I would welcome another novel exploring this novel's aftermath if only to see what it means for the characters. If this is the route the author plans to take, it could enhance the story nicely.

A creepy, unsettling look at being captive. The crushing reality of holding on to hope, while slowly losing yourself is wonderfully explored, but the ending felt rather quick. Fans of tense atmosphere, and story driven novel that allows you to get to know the characters should check this one out.

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