Beth says 4 Stars...
Based on the cover one would expect this book to be creepy and it certainly was. Start off with a creepy house with a history, a couple of desperate families moving in ten years apart, add a dash of psychological damage, and you have the perfect set up for a horror story. The narrative alternates between the first person accounts of Connor and Gwen, which kept me from getting bored with one of them. It also allowed Ostow to delve into two similar, yet different accounts of the house's horrors. The plot moved quickly and consistently forward with both stories adding information and occasionally giving different perspectives on the same thing. I'll admit that I scare easily, but I had serious problems with this as bedtime reading. Although there's some grossness, most of the fear comes from the psychological games Amity plays with everyone who comes into contact with her. That's right, I'm talking about the evil magic house like it's sentient. Amity plays the biggest role in moving the action forward and acts as the core of the book.
The characters serve the purpose of Amity and act as vessels for or antagonists towards her power. What I found so interesting was how the two main characters could have such different reactions to Amity. It's unsettling to be in either Gwen or Connor's head for opposite reasons. Gwen's constantly questioning her sanity and thus ends up ignoring all of her instincts. Not only that, but everyone around her also refuses to believe her since she's supposedly unstable. On the other hand, Connor is terrifying in his psychopathy and love of Amity. He embraces and enjoys the darkness and evil that permeates the house, which is a super creepy head space to inhabit for however brief a time. The siblings of the main characters fill their roles nicely. Honestly, the characters are only really there to be vehicles of the story and it works.
This book is one for horror fans that don't want an overabundance of gore, but still want something to unsettle them. There isn't much productive character development because the plot is the major focus. I know this isn't going to be for everyone. I found it a nice, albeit scary, change of pace.
ebook from publisher