Katrina Leno's latest novel, Horrid, is a novel getting a lot of buzz this Halloween season. Personally, I ended up coming across it thanks to its inclusion in OwlCrate's September box, though the roses on the cover would probably have been enough to pique my interest regardless.
Jane North-Robinson just lost her father, and now she and her mother are moving from warm California to cold and dreary New England (in the fall, at that). While her life hadn't exactly been perfect before that moment, Jane's life seemed to get infinitely more complicated and horrible after.
Now she's stuck in a big mystery, all revolving around her family and the secrets trapped within a small town. As it turns out, both her mother and the entire town had been keeping secrets from her. Secrets that could change, or ruin, her life.
“No, she couldn't remember the first book she'd eaten, but she could remember the first book she'd eaten purposefully. And that was maybe more important.”
I'm going to be honest with you here: I didn't know what to expect from Horrid before I started reading. I basically went into this book blind, with no expectations or spoilers available. I think that was for the best.
So what did I think of this book, for which I had no assumptions about? It was okay. Not horrible (pun intended). But also not great. I had a lot of potential though, as the writing itself was wonderful, as was the mystery surrounding Jane's life.
I loved all of the book references and the descriptions of the house, the scents, and all the little details that crossed Jane's mind and senses. It made the world feel so rich and alive, which of course also helped to increase the tension and stake of the story itself.
“It isn't always easy. Returning to the past.”
Looking back on it, I think I adored the first half of this novel. That's where all of the build-up was, and most of the tension, for that matter. It was the ending and everything around it that I felt was lacking.
Lacking is perhaps a bit harsh. Mostly I mean that the ending felt like it was missing...something. An extra detail, perhaps even an extra chapter or two. I'm not entirely certain, but it didn't captivate me the way the first part of the novel did.
All things considered though, this was a fun and extremely quick read. It's the perfect book to sit down with a cup of tea and just read all in one sitting. Especially this time of year (naturally, I waited until the week of Halloween to read it).
Check out more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks
From the author of You Must Not Miss comes a haunting contemporary horror novel that explores themes of mental illness, rage, and grief, twisted with spine-chilling elements of Stephen King and Agatha Christie.
Following her father's death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor's doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone...and more tormented.
As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident "bad seed," struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane's mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won't reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the "storage room" her mom has kept locked isn't for storage at all--it's a little girl's bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears....
Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more...horrid?