Author: Amy Lukavics
Genre: YA Horror
Pages: Hardback, 231
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Opening Lines: "The first time I lay with the post boy was on a Sunday, and I broke three commandments to do it."
"When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner's family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.
"When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn't right on the prairie. She's heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda cant's be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul."
~ Jacket copy
As we near October every year, I spend weeks on Goodreads, Google, and Pinterest trying to find the best horror novels that have recently been released or that I've missed. It made me extremely ecstatic when I found a whole board devoted to new, terrifying horror novels! I was even more excited when I was able to find the vast majority of them at my local library or available via InterLibrary Loan! And this lovely gem happened to end up at the top of the pile. It might have had a little something to do with the cover, but . . . Well, I prefer not to judge a book by its cover . . .
The jack copy does a far better job explaining the story than I could. However, in an attempt to add to it, Amanda is a young girl struggling with her demons, as well as dealing with the growing tensions in her family and herself. And, by the end of the book, you are left wondering whether she truly did find respite from the voices in her head.
This book was chilling.
The story opens up with a young girl dealing with the residual shadows of cabin fever, a sister who was born deaf and blind, and possibly her place within her large family. As a form of escapism—and maybe a little bit of rebellion—she enters into a torrid affair with a post boy. What she thought was love and romance changes quickly with the discovery of pregnancy and the threat of another hard winter. On the heels of that revelation, Amanda's pa decides to move them out of their tiny cabin in the woods to the warm prairies full of larger cabins ripe for the picking. And that is when things turn sinister . . .
When I first started reading this book, I wondered whether it was taking awhile to get going and to catch its stride; however, after taking a few days to dwell on it, I feel as though the author fully intended it as a literary mechanism. Throughout the beginnings of the story, the author kept dropping little details about the previous winter and what Amanda saw in the woods. You are told that her pa has treated her differently since then and won't even look at her the same. Her ma even has a wary on on her. Nonetheless, the author doesn't divulge that information until later. It was small things like this that made the overwhelming sense of dread build, and it had me feeling as though something sinister was waiting on the periphery.
There were many times that I found myself not wanting to put it down and then being forced to leave my bedside light on. The author did an amazing job with the internal and external demons. And the book truly has stayed with me since I finished it on Thursday.
Even given the great nature of this book, I felt that a few things were lacking and made me ask questions. I felt as though she didn't fully answer how Pa got the map. Amanda has a theory—which I think is correct—but it was left too ambiguous for me. In addition, she needed to flesh out the whole backstory behind Zeke and his father. I wanted more information about their role in the whole story, how long these issues had been going on, and even a little more about the other cabin. And was everything inevitable? Aside from the solution the doctor presented at the end, was there a way to keep all of this from happening?
All in all, it was chilling and terrifying on many different aspects. If you're looking for a quick, good horror story, this was should definitely be on your list.