I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Greenwillow on October 7th, 2014
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
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.
I haven’t read this author’s other works. The Masque of the Red Death duology was on my list of books I should consider, but I’ve yet to get around to it. I had no idea what to expect, as I hadn’t remembered reading the original Poe story, The Fall of the House of Usher. I also usually don’t watch Epic Reads do their Tea Time. There’s no tea and thems ladies are so bubbly it’s kind of like nails on a chalkboard to my cynical nature. Regardless, I ended up sitting through at least half of their latest #arcparty, just to see what was coming out. And while, The Fall was already up on Edelweiss, I’d given it a pass at first glance. But, they made it sound appealing and so I downloaded it immediately and set my teeth into it.
After reading the first forty or so pages, I decided it’d be a good idea to maybe brush up on the Poe original. So, I took a break and read through Poe’s work. I’ve got a pretty sound basis on which to make some comparisons. Though, to be honest, this retelling doesn’t even pick up the vein of the original story until 90% through. It went a few directions I wouldn’t have, and I found them to be jarring. The house would move and shift and fulfill desires all House of Leaves style, which, you know, I can get behind. But besides the random attempts at maiming people with masonry and wooden beams, it would also throw weapons. That’s not something a house should be able to do. I understand wanting to keep the Usher’s within its premises, but the lengths it took to get them there were a bit over the top.
At one point, there was some sort of tentacle monster in a nearby pond? Yet, it would only really do anything if someone went within the water. In no way would it move its tentacles out of the water and grab people off the nearby bridge. At this point, I began to wonder if it was just seaweed and maybe our heroine was a bit unhinged, but she kept insisting there was a monster involved.
The book doesn’t really go through the sickness and madness that overtakes the Ushers. It barely even suggested that maybe the house was involved and sucking their life force. That seemed to be on the back burner, despite the creepy goingsons within the house itself.
At one point, Madeline becomes rather infatuated with this utter douchebag of a doctor. The man’s got a girlfriend who comes to stay at the house for a time, befriending Madeline despite the fact that they’re both into the same dude. The only time Madeline really starts to question her romantic feelings is after the doctor murders his girlfriend. AFTER. Like, whoa, maybe you should have backed up to the part where he was lying and stringing along both of the girls?
The writing itself is disjointed. There’s above 150 chapters in this 400 page book and they jump around in time until you feel almost as crazy as the characters within the house. It was extremely difficult to settle in and just read, when every couple of pages you had to reassess where you were in the story and what was happening. When it goes from age 16 to 12 to 9, everything becomes a bit jumbled. I began to refer to the timeline as Before Parents and After Parents, as they seemed to be one of the first obvious anchored plot points.
So, this book fell pretty flat for me. The plot didn’t move in the direction I was hoping, the characters remained droll and somewhat idiotic, and the pacing was a mess.