This promises to be a scary book. For me, it was not. It has creepy vibes, sure but it’s not something I’d even palpitate over.
The book is about Ruthie, who lives in a remote town of West Hall in Vermont, with no internet, and minimal contact with the main settlement. She finds a diary written by an owner who lived in the house she lives in now, about a century ago. She finds some mysterious clues about how the place she lives in may actually things, creatures and entities that have only been rumoured to exist so far. The whole book runs in two parallel timelines of past and present. The previous owner of the house in the 1800s, Sara is whose diary is coveted by most, people even ready to kill for her diary. Why? You need to read it to know.
Why would someone want to read a diary only meant to be cursed and written about some really bad, demonic things that still lurk within the woods? Well. That’s the mystery of it all. Back in 1800s, Sara was killed mysteriously with her body found skinned in front of her house, her child had been found dead a month before he was killed, and her husband killed himself by shooting his own face after finding his wife dead – being accused of madness and murder.
What begins as a promise to scare you ends up being a small town mystery for a large chunk of it. The characters are good, but slightly one-dimensional. Honestly, The Broken Girls by Simone St. James has raised the standards of paranormal mysteries for me exponentially. I expected this to atleast reach 8 if that book was a 10, but it managed to stay somewhere between 6.5-7.
The setting is eerie, the vibe is cold and wintry. The location in itself is a character that speaks more than the characters throughout the whole book. There’s not many jump scares, just that there’s some ‘undead’ things lurking around and you’re not sure what the book tries to say until it ties all ends in the climax.
It’s most definitely a readable book, but don’t expect much in terms of action. There’s violence and a bit of gore too, adding a little edge to it, along with the whole ‘isolated place in the woods that has demons’ trope that makes it fun. Infact the synopsis itself tells you this and for me, creepy things in the woods are my jam and why I picked it up.
The writing style is good, but the time jumps kind of cause some trouble in linking the story. The start infact, is rough as it’s unclear who remains the narrator and who the story is all about. It does take a while to sink into it but it is enjoyable nonetheless. I finished it in a day despite it being medium-long-ish in length.
I think for those who scare easy, this could be an adventurous read. So yes I’d recommend to read this on a cold, rainy afternoon with some hot chocolate and noise of TV in the background so you don’t get too freaked out. But for those with a strong stomach and don’t scare that easily, this can be a random read just to pass some time and engage your mind in.
The end ties things well, but on the whole I was not too happy with the kind of explanation that it gave. It felt like a ghost story wanting to become a classic like Frankenstein – wanting to be very scary but has this soft edge to it on the inside that could kill the whole vibe. (This is also a major clue if not a spoiler to how things end up. However, I think you really should read this one to know.)
My rating : 3/5
I truly do hope you enjoy this book. Let me know your thoughts on my Bookstagram @thesecondlibrarian if you do end up reading it!