This was nowhere near what I thought it was going to be. I had read The Raising by the author, and loved that book. This did not endear itself to me at all, sadly. It’s billed as a psychological thriller, I would have to call it more of a patience tester. The cover will scare the crap out of you if you pull it off the bookshelf and aren’t expecting the cover. It’s creepy. It’s effective in making you pick up the book and read it. It’s about where the thrill ended for me, sadly.
Holly Lodge (what a name) wakes up on Christmas morning, with this creepy chill crawling its way through her bones. She mentally relives some weird shit that’s gone down quite recently, and comes to the conclusion that something has followed her back from Russia, where her adopted daughter Tatty (Tatty? As in Ratty Tatty? Short for Tatiana, but again, the nickname is odd.) is from. Holly’s hungover from rum and eggnog the prior evening, but she gets up, because hey, it’s Christmas morning! Her and Tatiana end up being stranded in the house because quite the blizzard is raging outside, and no one in their right mind is out and about. As the day and the novel progress, Holly revisits the time and circumstances leading up to Tatiana’s adoption, and now that they’ve returned, something- something- something is with them. (continuous usage of that phrase in the book gets real tiring, real fast). There is real palpable fear in the book as you read it, but underneath that feeling of inevitable menace, is the slight annoyance of repetition in the sentences and dialogue coming from Holly. Not only does the story constantly change, but you feel like you never know the full story. Perhaps that’s the intent as a plot device, but it’s only intent is to drive this reader nuts, and in that, the author succeeds. Tatiana’s character is developed, but you feel as if her true nature is overshadowed by the fear that is emanating from Holly every other sentence. What’s going on in this house? What evil entity is there? Is it lying within Tatiana; is she the vessel? Holly is suddenly viewing her beloved daughter with steampunk goggles, and it’s unclear why. It’s hard to sympathize with Holly at all; you kind of want to shake her and tell her if she’s that fucking scared, well, leave. Or call someone. Instead she continues to argue with her inner dialogues and the tension builds to the absolutely stunning end. In fact, the end completely threw me. Didn’t see it coming at all, but I almost welcome how it ended, because it saved the book from being a zero star for me. Not sure others may agree with my assessment, but hey, it’s my blog, and I’ll review how I want to.
A book like this? Parents are full of unconditional love for their children; adopted or not. This book? Not so. Holly makes you feel like her daughter is a hindrance, an evil person, someone who is out to cause harm. I read enough of that before deciding in my own mind that anyone who can view their kid like that instead of being concerned for their well being, has no chance of redemption in my hall of characters read. I did not like the character of Holly at all, and I believe that ruined a lot of the novel for me. Tatiana was hard to get a grip on, character-wise, because you feel as if Holly’s thoughts have already ruined whatever opinion the reader may have of her. She’s more of a shadowy menace, without the actual menace. (Phantom Menace? Eek).Tatiana comes off as a bitchy child, rude to her mother- hello, people, she’s 15 years old in a new country–what do you expect?? The husband is barely a blip on the screen. There was a lot of inconsistency in the writing. No flow to the words. A lot of clunk. Ultimately, a lot of junk. I would advise to avoid.