The Women in the Walls
By: Amy Lukavics
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: September 27th, 2016
Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.
When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
NOTE: Although Em and I live in central North Carolina, we apparently live within the range of hurricane activity. We both lost power this weekend, thanks to Hurricane Matthew, and while I got power (and internet) back within a few hours, as of writing this Em still doesn’t have power or internet. It’s a horror-esque start to October, which inspired this post. So, pardon the disruption to our usual schedule, but hopefully we’ll be back to normal soon!
So the first thing you need to know about me, before reading this review, is that I am absolutely not a fan of horror. I can endure horror movies under duress, but I really prefer to avoid them at all costs. I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking, picking up Women in the Walls to read on a casual afternoon, but it wasn’t typical Rosi behavior. But, that being said, I actually liked this.
The first thing that caught my attention was Lucy. She’s a peculiar character–weak, really, ineffective at what she tries to do, but she has a peculiar resiliency as well. Over and over again, events that should break her don’t. I found myself intrigued despite myself at how she endured and what she was going through. And although the other characters were also interesting, Lucy is clearly the focal point. Actually, the only characters who mattered were women, which I like. There’s a certain complexity that comes with a female-centered horror that is much more intriguing than burly men doing bad things with chainsaws.
The plot was…rapid. I’m not sure how else to say it. I read the entire book in probably less than two hours, and didn’t feel like I skimmed afterwards. I’m not super content with that–I like books that let me luxuriate in the plot and the world-building–but the fast pace served the needs of the book. It kept the suspense and the tension high, without allowing me to dwell on gory details like someone’s skull exploding with the application of an iron fence post.
I also enjoyed the atmospheric emphasis, which I think horror does particularly well. The cover, with it’s misty house and bloody font, first set the mood, and it continued well. Also, having a super-creepy country club is an amusing idea–I’ve always thought country clubs to have a decidedly creepy air. Towards the end, though, things stopped really clicking. I thought the abandoned-orphanage plot point to be overdone, and the human-head-served-up-for-dinner bit lacked some of the oomph it could have (as well as also being overdone). I was pleasantly surprised at some of the twists that came after, though, and how the country club went from creepy to very creepy. I also liked the emphasis on the evil potential of women, and the utter blindness of the men in the story.
That being said, though, some of the creepy touches felt unnecessary for the overall plot. I felt that the first death was unnecessary except for shock value, and I feel that Lucy’s mother’s death was neither explained nor really actually necessary. I disapprove of gore and deaths that are just to shock–it served to lessen the effect of the deaths that really mattered.
Since I was reading this in a public space, I was glad that I mostly felt the actual horror part to be lessened, although the suspense was on point. I think if I was a real horror aficionado, though, I’d be kind of disappointed. It might be an interesting way to get into horror/thriller stuff, and I thought it was fine for a casual read, but I’m not sure how this book stands up to the rest of the YA horror genre (if there is such a thing).
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.