October 17, 2016

Book Review: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics


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Something isn't right in this house. 

Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she and her best friend and cousin, Margaret, know the ancient hallways inside out. Or so they think . . .

When her beloved Aunt Penelope disappears while walking in the surrounding woods, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret, meanwhile, has been spending a LOT of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her mother's voice whispering from the walls.

Shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly and completely unravels. And then she begins hearing voices herself . . . 

“Walter the cook killed himself in his little bedroom in his little bedroom downstairs, just a few hours after saying goodnight.”

From the first sentence, there was no doubt this was going to be an unforgettable and original novel. The multiple deaths and disappearances at the Acosta manor are shrouded in mystery. Nothing is ever explained to the two young women who live there, cousins Margaret and Lucy. Lucy, the protagonist, however, knows that there are twisted secrets in the history of the manor and the women in her family – the two are intertwined. Yet the one remaining adult in their lives, her father, is dismissive of Lucy’s concerns, instead obsessed with impressing the local country club. As a result, Margaret and Lucy engage in disturbing behaviors. Lucy becomes self-destructive and Margaret starts hearing voices in the walls of the manor. Something is seriously wrong.

Of course, the title immediately invoked “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman -  that feminist classic short story of a woman whose mental health deteriorates until she becomes convinced that there are women imprisoned within the wallpaper of her room.  Like that short story, unhealthy family dynamics lead to the Margaret and Lucy’s own deterioration.

I had multiple theories as to what was really going on. The father and his sinister club - patriarchy leading to the Acosta women dying or disappearing one by one.

However, I did not see the final chapters coming. Talk about horrific and shocking. The promise of the title and all that it invoked is delivered and then some. Gore, madness, and teeth is all I will say – you will have to discover the rest for yourself.    

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