- Author: Erin A. Craig
- Genre: Fantasy
- Publication Date: July 27, 2021
- Publisher: Delacorte Press
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.
CONTENT WARNING: blood, gore, death of an animal, mention of miscarriage, murder, death, violence
Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.
As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.
This was such an interesting book, and I was hooked from the first page until the very last one. At first, the isolated setting and religious overtones in the book reminded me slightly of The Year of the Witching, but as the story went on, it gave off Needful Things and then Rumplestiltskin vibes. However, this story ultimately synthesized all of these different elements to create a completely unique and enchanting story.
The only things that kept me from giving this a full 5 stars is that one specific part of the story was a bit predictable early on, and the overwhelming need for a thorough editing. I understand that ARCs are not finished products, but it felt as though this book hadn’t been proofread or edited at all. It got to the point where it was distracting to see that many errors.
I loved Ellerie’s character. She definitely came across as the perfect mix of responsible yet sheltered. Growing up as the oldest sister and doing the right thing to the best of her abilities is something that she just does naturally, but her family also lives on the outskirts of the isolated town. At the beginning of the story, Ellerie’s worldview starts to change—slowly at first and then dramatically, but she retains her core values of being loyal to her family and doing what she feels is right. The characters around her, both in her family and the town, are built up slowly enough to get to know them as well, which is nice and avoids the dreaded info-dump.
The plot was fascinating, and bordered on horror but was more of a psychological horror. It examines not only evil forces outside of ourselves, but the dark desires that reside within a person’s heart. To me, that’s always the scariest of scary things—the horror that lurks inside a person, and how easy it is to set it free. Juxtaposed with this darker side of human nature is romance, and I loved seeing how it developed.
This was a well-written story that I struggled to put down. I had other things that needed to be done while reading it, and honestly didn’t want to do anything else while immersed in the story. I’m definitely not above hoping for another book to follow this one, since I got so attached to the characters, and I want to see what happens next in their world!
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 17
Categories: Book Review