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Friday, 10 October 2014
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the Publisher!
The Ushers of Usher House die young. They are all cursed, doomed thanks to a greedy and bloodthirsty ancestor. You see Usher House is different, some say it's haunted, but the Ushers know that the house has a mind of it's own. Ushers can never leave the House, it won't let them. They feel what it feels and it thrives on suffering and pain. At first, Madeline was seduced by the House, when you have a mother as cruel as hers, who loves her twin brother more than her, the affection and the love brought from being the House's favourite, meant everything to her, especially when her mother saves her brother from the curse by sending him away. Soon enough, Madeline is alone in the House, the House the only thing that cares about her, it even sends her a dog to keep her company, although she is wary of gifts from the House. But being the House's favourite doesn't mean you're safe.
Through bursts of Madeline's memories over the years, we learn about the House, her life and watch as she makes the first friend in her entire life, watch a doctor become a murderer and watch Madeline finally hatch a plan to escape. You see, she has to destroy the House. But when she wakes up in a coffin, it seems the House has won. Can Madeline be strong enough to destroy the House to save herself and her brother?
Guys this is seriously right up there as a Halloween read, I was going to save it until closer to the time, but I kept looking at, and I watched all the other reviews roll in and I couldn't stop myself. I cracked. And I'm soooo glad I did, I zoomed through this in a couple of hours and I was hooked the entire way through! I seriously couldn't put it down.
The Fall is fantastically, creepily atmospheric. The House can be pictured so vividly you feel as if you've been there before, and this book is so incredibly unique. You find yourself transported in to the incredibly eerie house, breathing in the dust and the decay and quite honestly, I should REALLY not have been reading this as late at night as I was, because I was completely creeped out, yet I couldn't simply close the book and put it down. I mean, I have been known to watch Most Haunted and then be able to sleep properly for a week, and the mentions of ghosts in this where so very eerie and creepy, yet, like the glutton for punishment I am, I carried on. (In case anyone was wondering, I did sleep perfectly fine after a couple of hours of mindlessly reading peoples crap on Facebook)
I keep capitalizing House in my synopsis and so far in this review, to me, I feel it should be, as the House isn't just a building, it feels like an actual character in the book. It prevents the family from leaving, I'm fairly certain the house is what causes their "illness", and ya know...it threw an axe at Madeline. The House feels incredibly vengeful, incredibly.....malicious? It enjoys grief and pain and cruelty, and so it enjoys taunting and terrorizing it's inhabitants. This really adds to the incredible atmosphere of the book, you can feel the foreboding, the fear, the dread, the hopelessness of everyone from the House that has ever tried to beat it, to leave. It feels like no-one in the House is truly living. There's incredible moments of disorientation, particularly when the House seems to be making Madeline think she's gone mad, I mean it could have been the Doctor drugging her, that was a contribution, but the House would make things disappear. Stairs go nowhere, doors open on to walls. It was astounding.
The story is strange, in that the pace is fairly slow, but you're still gripped, compelled to keep reading. The POV switches from current Madeline of 18 year's, to younger Madeline, from 8, I think the youngest was, to 17. The chapters are fairly short, but it's sufficient enough in length to give you a glimpse in to Madeline's past, to keep you reading as you try to put the pieces together. It's through these flashbacks, as well as the diary entries of Lisbeth Usher, scattered throughout Madeline's narrative? POV's? I'm not sure how to put it, that we learn of Madeline's family history. I will admit I worked out who Lisbeth was fairly quickly, but I was not expecting the conclusion of Lisbeth's story, as it where, I had assumed she was someone's mother and was very wrong!
I loved the first chapter, with Madeline in the coffin, almost the end at the beginning, you knew it was going to happen, as you read you work out why it must have happened, but you can't wait to find out what happens next, and when it reaches the tie in, as the book is racing towards the end you're frantically turning pages, and realizing how few there are left, which is mildly worrying.
I loved the ending. If you want a definitive ending, this will probably vex you. I liked how Cassandra was there, I'd quite like to know what the deal was with the tentacle monster and how she survived! You're left wondering if Madeline and Roderick are alive, I would like to think they are, from the ending, I really do think they are, but you're left to draw your own conclusion and for me, I felt like it was the perfect ending to the book. Keeping some mystery and intrigue.
Madeline I felt for from the beginning with how her mother treated her as opposed to Roderick, and I could understand each and every feeling she had, including when she felt some resentment to him. I mean I resented him and more than once wanted to smack him one, I mean who could leave their sister alone, all by herself, on Christmas Day just because he didn't like the House. There where a few moments like that where I really hated him. But Madeline I connected with.
When you're reading you see and feel what Madeline see's and feels, for example with Emily, like Madeline, I really did think she'd taken the money and scarpered, just used Madeline with no intention of coming back, I did not, at all, expect what had really happened, I mean I knew he was cray-cray but I didn't think he was THAT bad. The Fall for me, was a good mix between being able to guess some things, and being totally shocked and surprised by others. You constantly create theories as you read and have them totally destroyed in an unexpected way.
Also, like Madeline, you doubt everything and everyone. Is Cassandra really Madeline's ally? Is Emily trustworthy? Is Dr.Paul? You question everyone and their motives, particularly the doctors. Pretty much everyone in the House has some Usher blood and was drawn in by the House so everyone is suspect, I can't imagine living questioning everyone and never trusting everyone like Madeline did every single day.
The characters and their transformations where particularly fascinating. The young Doctor being a prime example, in the beginning there where hints of genuine romance, from a young man who just wanted to solve the family illness/curse and cure Madeline, who became infected by the House and it's evil spirit, although, having said that, i'm not sure how innocent he was in the beginning after a conversation was overheard, I was starting to think he had ulterior motives for going there. He did a total 180. Then there was Roderick, who seemed to escape the curse, but changed entirely when he came back and spent a certain amount of time with the House, not to mention the House's rather (very well done) skeevy desire to have Madeline and Roderick be a liiiiiiiittle bit incestuous. They don't, because ya know...they realize it's the House.
I was very intrigued by Noah, and his relationship with Roderick, I assume he was the friend the "incident" happened with, and with how he was treating Madeline, I was very curious to see more of him, but again, you can draw your own conclusions.
The Fall is spooky, creepy, eerie, spellbinding, enchanting, mesmerizing, haunting, I could go on and on, but you get my drift. It was so fantastically vivid and atmospheric that it sucked you in to the story and in to the House along with Madeline, it's an incredible read, with fascinating characters and constant mystery and intrigue for you to work through, putting the pieces together, trying to come up with theories and trying to work out, along with Madeline, how to beat the House. I had very high expectations for this book and I wasn't disappointed, it's one that I will read again and again, particularly around this time of year! The Fall will really give your imagination a work out, from tentacled creatures and ghosts, to those times when you get no definitive answer and have to decide for yourself what happened!