Saturday, May 5, 2018

REVIEW: House of Ash by Hope Cook - Paige

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM
Rating:
Genre: YA Horror/Paranormal
Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, ableism, homophobic slurs, abuse)
Pages: 308
Author: Hope Cook
#partner: I received a free copy of this book from KidLitExchange in exchange for my honest opinion. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Synopsis:

After hearing voices among an eerie copse of trees in the woods, seventeen-year-old Curtis must confront his worst fear: that he has inherited his father’s mental illness. A desperate search for answers leads him to discover Gravenhearst, a labyrinth mansion that burned down in 1894. When he locks eyes with a steely Victorian girl in a forgotten mirror, he’s sure she’s one of the fire’s victims. If he can unravel the mystery, he can save his sanity . . . and possibly the girl who haunts his dreams.

But more than 100 years in the past, the girl in the mirror is fighting her own battles. When her mother disappears and her sinister stepfather reveals his true intentions, Mila and her sister fight to escape Gravenhearst and unravel the house’s secrets—before it devours them both.


I’ve been looking for a good horror book for awhile and when I saw this book pop up on the KidLitExchange page, I wanted to give it a go. The book is a duel perspective novel that jumps between two time periods as well. We have Curtis who lives in modern day and is living with a mentally ill father and is worried he has inherited his father’s mental illness when he hears voices in the woods. His search for answers leads him to a mansion that burns down in 1894. In 1894, we have are given the perspective of Mila, who becomes victim to her evil step father when her mother mysteriously vanishes. She and her sister are desperate for escape before they fall prey to whatever lies in wait for them. I found that the writing style of this book, while I didn’t enjoy it, really suited the eerie and creepy nature of this story. I also thought that the plot was overall intriguing. This would be the perfect book for Halloween of 2018 for anyone who enjoys spooky reads.

However, I didn’t like the main characters at all. I think they fell flat in this book and that they didn’t really have a lot of development. I felt that there were also a ton of loose endings and that the ending didn’t really fit into the story that well. The book also had a ton of problematic elements to it and plot holes. One of my severe dislikes of this book was how mental illness was shown. The father in this book has some severe mental illness and he wanders around at night with a gun and aims it at his head. The father is also very violent and very scary. This does not do anything to destigmatize mental health and could harm it even further by pushing those who do struggle with mental illness into the dark more-so than some are now. The book also had some homophobic slurs, but it was addressed in the book. The book was also very slow paced. One of my other main problems in this book is a complaint I have for a lot of books where the parents are unfit to care for the children, but the children stick with it because they don’t want to be separated. Children who are taken as wards of the state or into foster care don’t normally get instantly separated unless there have been issues between the siblings that would warrant that, such as abuse of any kind between the siblings. The foster care systems generally try to keep siblings together and if that cannot happen then the siblings are usually put in nearby foster homes and sibling visitations are scheduled so the siblings can still maintain a bond. The social care workers also work diligently to find homes that can care for both kids in cases of adoption. No one wants to split up families and I’m really upset that the stigma is still around. This stigma keeps kids from crying for help because of the fear of not seeing their siblings anymore.

Verdict: If you’re looking for a good horror story for October 2018, this is your book. The book was full of chills and thrills and the plot was intriguing. However, there are some problematic elements in this book that you need to be aware of.

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