Book Review — The Women in the Walls

Title:  The Women in the Walls
Author:  Amy Lukavics
Genre:  YA horror
Pages:  Hardback, 278
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
ISBN:  978-0-373-21194-4
Opening Lines:  "Walter the cook killed himself in his little bedroom downstairs, just a few hours after saying good-night."

Rating


"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 beings hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy in her family for generations."

~ Jacket copy




After reading Daughters Unto Devils, I desperately wanted to get my hands on Lukavics next book.  While there were unanswered questions in her first novel, it managed to leave a chill in my bones and kept my light on for many nights following.  The concept of this book sounded interesting, and it reminded me of myriad ghost stories I heard growing up.


Lucy Acosta has always grown up with the image of what an Acosta is: "An Acosta must never lack control.  She must keep her back straight, and her clothes ironed, and her expression placid.  She must refuse to be seen unless her hair and makeup have been set . . ." (277).  Even though she has always strove to follow her aunt's impeccable example, her composure beings to slip when her aunt disappears and her cousin begins a fast decent into madness.



Where do I even begin?  I had high hopes for this book.  The beginning grabs the reader's attention and draws them in with promises of mystery and a sinister story.  However, as the book progress, everything falls apart and fails to deliver.  

In some ways, the story was anti-climactic.  The book built and built and built without a true resolution.  Further, many of the details were undeveloped and felt haphazardly thrown into the story.  For example, not only was Lucy's cutting predicable, it felt as though it was included merely because it seemed right.  Maybe the author felt it added depth to the character, but . . . It felt like a failed attempt.  In addition, most of the supporting characters left me with the impression that they were nothing more than an afterthought that provided filler.  The isolation might have been a plot device, however, Lucy barely had any interaction with them.  

Looking at Lucy for a moment, she mentions that she just knows her aunt could never be a killer (p. 214) and—after systematic emotional abuse—deep down, she knows her father cares (p. 219).  I found this to be quite problematic.  Not only is her father's care completely outside of the character we've seen up to this point, Lucy spends too much time inner-focused up to this point, the bold statements—while too vague—belie everything the audience is shown and hints at some watchfulness on her part. While that may be completely within the realm of possibility, why were we not shown this side of her before?  For the most part, Lucy only sees her father through a specific Margaret-filtered lens.  These comments felt as though they were the author's way of trying to rectify our previous views of characters like her father or as a failed lead in to something more sinister.  

Furthermore, Margaret is a far more compelling character.  While abrasive, she had a vibrancy that Lucy lacks.  It was hinted that the girls were no longer in the school system because of Margaret and possible fights.  That is seen in her treatment of Vanessa.  At some level, I wish the author had switched the characters.  Lucy lives too much in her head, spends her time being pulled every which way by Margaret, and agonizes over whether she should cut herself.  Further, her behavior toward her father is incongruous with her response to Margaret and everyone else (mousy vs. bitch). 

The beginning of the book was quite engaging, yet it quickly dwindled and died completely.  The ending left me with more questions than it sought to answer.  Why was Lucy's mother given the estate?  Why was her father so distant?  How much did he know about the Mother?  Who is the Mother?  Why did the women choose an Acosta as the caretaker of the estate?  What fully happened to Penelope when she was gone?  Who was/is Clara?  Aside from bringing in more acolytes, what is the roll of the Daughter?  Etc., etc., etc.

There were some good parts to the story and the imagery was amazing.  Sadly, however, this book failed to delivery on all counts.  

Much love, Sinn

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    "If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish.