Publishing Info: October 7, 2014 by HarperCollins
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 28, 2014
Related Posts: The Fall
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’ve actually read very few original Edgar Allan Poe stories but when I was looking for a good, creepy Halloween read, I immediately turned to THE FALL, a retelling of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, for a good book with just the right amount of scary for me. See, I’m a total chicken when it comes to the scary. I like creepy, but I don’t like my books (or movies or TV shows) to be too scary. Fortunately, Bethany Griffin’s THE FALL was just the perfect mix for me!
I actually can’t really compare too much to the original Poe tale since I haven’t read it, but upon finishing, I definitely wanted to! The book revolves around Madeline Usher and her family. The chapters are quite short and each one details a different point in Madeline’s life from her childhood all the way through teenage years, meeting up with the “present-day” story line in the novel. Sometimes it’s hard to jump around from age to age, but I think just focusing on Madeline and not having a second point of view in the mix really helped and I also found it really interesting to slowly get the pieces of how the family curse worked, how it affected Madeline and her family, and getting that information in a strategic way. I’m always impressed when authors are able to manipulate a timeline like that to remove things from chronological order in order to maintain a mystery.
At times, the short chapters seemed like both a blessing and a curse. I really like short chapters because especially during times when I don’t have a ton of time to read, the short chapters really help me feel like I’m making progress with a book. At the same time, having so many chapters did make me feel like I was progressing really quickly and then it came as a surprise how much of the book I really had left. I’m not saying I would have done it differently but it was definitely something that I was aware of while reading.
I think the reason THE FALL worked so well for me as a good, creepy book was how much the actual house itself was involved in the story. I am not a ghost person. I don’t handle ghost stories well because they’re just too real and I always get a little too creeped out. There were ghosts in THE FALL, but really the culprit behind all of the actions — and actually part of the reason why the ghosts are even present — is the house itself. There’s more to the curse and the explanation as to why, but that’s more for the reader to experience! Anyway… I just really enjoyed how the house was its own character. It had its own reasoning, a sense of feeling, and it interacted with the other characters. I loved its daunting presence and exactly how big of a role it played in the book.
The other characters were fascinating as well. Madeline was a very interesting character, being the main point of view as well as the “favorite of the house” so she had the most insight to the curse and everything that went on in the book. The interactions of the other characters and the house was really interesting as well. I was totally sucked in, analyzing exactly how the curse affected each person in turn and how the house chose to manipulate each of them.
Pretty much everything about this book worked for me! It was such a perfectly dark and spooky book with a fantastic gothic-horror feel and such a great horror read for a person like me who doesn’t like being scared pantless. I was still able to totally enjoy it without getting so scared that I wanted to stop reading and yet it never felt like anything was really missing either. It was really just a great balance for me and one I’d recommend for a creepy read!
“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
Madeline // Character Obsessions: The House of Usher, mysteries, family, her brother.
I really liked Madeline’s character! I remember feeling a few twinges of “hmmm” while reading, but I admired her determination to fight and figure out exactly what was going on with her family’s curse and trying to survive it. The family traditionally died young, had weird illnesses, and often fell victim to the curse in many ways so it was really interesting to see Madeline go through the same things and at the same time, try to fight it.
Kept Me Hooked On: Horror. I am not a horror person but I really enjoyed this book! A big thank you to Bethany Griffin for just the perfect amount of scary for a scaredy cat like me!
Left Me Wanting More: From secondary characters. There were plenty of secondary characters in this book but I guess the only thing I could say is that I wish I had felt a bit more connected to them. I actually think the house is the most important character after Madeline so the other characters felt a little pushed to the side (and actually, saying it like that seems totally reasonable considering how the book went! The house really did push them to the side…) but I did want to feel just a bit more connected to some of them.
I really enjoyed this one and I hope others do too! If you’ve read the original story from Poe, I’d love to hear what you think of it as a retelling! I think I’ll have to go read the original now so I can compare and be even more delightfully creeped out!
(Click the cover to see my review!)