An old-timey looking image of a girl in a black dress faces away from the viewer.

About the Book

Title: The Fall
Published: 2014

Cover Story: Horror Story
BFF Charm: Caution
Talky Talk: Poe-ian
Bonus/Anti-Bonus Factor: Halloween Read
Relationship Status: Locking the Deadbolts

Cover Story: Horror Story

The image on this cover is the photo that a group of kids finds in the basement of a creepy house in the beginning of a horror movie. The kids joke about the legend of the house, and make fun of the quality of the shot, but all of them save one—who goes mad eventually, natch—are dead by the time the movie’s over.

The Deal:

Madeline Usher has lived her entire life in the confines of the House of Usher. It’s not a pleasant place to live, however. The house is in a constant state of disrepair, is surrounded by a stagnant, stinky swamp, and quite literally haunted. The people that live there with her don’t help much, either. The servants are aloof and afraid, both her mother and father were driven insane by the family’s curse, and her brother was sent away to school to try and stave off the inevitable illness.

When she’s young, Madeline believes the house cares for her and is looking out for her. But as she grows older, she realizes that it’s is merely trying to keep her within its walls, to force her to fulfill her family’s seriously questionable traditions.

BFF Charm: Caution

BFF charm wrapped in yellow "Caution" tape

Madeline is not a well girl. She’s the product of too many years of the Usher curse, a madness that causes fits of hyperesthesia that can lead to catatonia. She lives in a house that haunts her, that is rotting and malevolent and isolated. She has never had any proper schooling. You can’t fault the girl for being a tad bit crazy. Although I’d love to say that I was a strong enough person to be friends with her, I’m just not sure I could deal with the house being so attached.

Swoonworthy Scale: -2

The only men in Madeline’s life are her father, her brother and a group of doctors who are more interested in her blood and studying her illness than her personality. There’s also an undercurrent of something horrible that runs throughout The Fall that made me super uncomfortable whenever it was offhandedly mentioned.

Talky Talk: Poe-ian

The Fall is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. Bethany Griffin has done a great job of retaining the bleak feel of the original, and reading the story through the eyes of Madeline, who has to deal with the house’s many moods and issues, makes it even creepier. The chapters switch between Madeline at different ages, from when she’s nine to when she’s 18. The fact that the story isn’t told chronologically adds to the strange, unsettling feel, too.

Bonus/Anti-Bonus Factor: Halloween Read

Willow in a sheet that says Boo

The Fall is a perfect Halloween read—if you like to read stories that leave you unsettled for a long while after you finish reading. It’s not a horror story, in the typical sense, but is filled with things that go bump in the night and live at the very edge of your peripheral vision, if you know what I mean.

Relationship Status: Locking the Deadbolts

You were an interesting date, Book. I was ever so slightly creeped out by your story, but the true testament to your lasting effect was the fact that I was unsettled for hours after you dropped me off at my house. I’d consider going out with you again, but perhaps we could have a day date next time? In a very populated area? Oh, no, I don’t need a ride. I’ll just meet you there.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Greenwillow Books. I received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. The Fall is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.