By Micol Ostow
Expected publication August 26, 2014 by Egmont USA
Connor has never been normal, something he gets from his father. But when his family moves to Amity, he begins to spiral dangerously out of control. Gwen has been hospitalized before - her family thinks she is prone to hysteria, to seeing things that aren't really there. The move to Amity is supposed to be good for her, a change of pace. It will be anything but that.
Okay, huge horror fan, even though I am quite frequently disappointed (I've been a horror fan so long that most things don't actually scare me), but I couldn't pass this one up. I wrote my college thesis on horror films of the 1970s that had been remade in the new century and The Amityville Horror was one of them. I'm not sure how familiar today's teens will be with the story, but it really doesn't have that much bearing on the story in this book.
See, this is not a retelling of Amityville, simply inspired by it, so even teens unfamiliar with the original story will be able to read and enjoy this one. I liked the dual narrative structure - Connor and Gwen's stories, set ten years apart - even though it was a bit difficult to get into at first. Once the story got underway, I thought it was refreshing to move back and forth between the narratives, seeing the parallels and differences. Actually, I think this book excels at pacing overall - the chapters are short, long enough to give you information but short enough to keep you flipping the pages quickly. As the book progresses and the danger draws ever nearer, the chapters get even shorter, upping the frenetic pace at which you turn the pages. I think it took me just a couple hours to finish this one - I was completely invested in the suspense of the story.
In terms of the horror, there is some gore described on the page, so if you're sensitive, bear that in mind. The horror here is more psychological than physical - the slow descent into madness, the questioning of one's own sanity. It's heavy stuff, and I think Ostow does it well. I think teens looking for a gripping horror story this fall will be in luck to discover this one.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.