I’m super behind on reviews (tbh, I feel like I’m super behind on life right now as I try to finish the PhD) but I read this one last night and it annoyed me SO MUCH that I had to write a review.
Summary: Daniel and Laura are your typical middle-class British holidayers, backpacking around Europe before they decide to settle down, get married, and have a baby. While traveling through Romania, they hit trouble: kicked off a train with only another Romanian woman for company, they find a creepy house in the middle of the forest which has Something In It that traumatizes them so much they won’t talk about it to each other or anyone else, two months later, which is where the plot picks up again, as creepy things start happening to them.
PSA: This book uses ‘trauma’ as an excuse for delaying the reveal. It doesn’t work very well. In fact, I think it’s insulting to the reader.
The plot is ridiculous, overblown, and overcomplicated. There’s about three different things going on at once, and the ways that they work together are so utterly maddening and coincidental that I felt myself growing dumber as everything gets explained in the last third of the book. The characters are cardboard stereotypes, right down to the rule-bending PI and the hot foreign woman. As for genre, this book can’t decide what it wants to be. It floats the idea of the supernatural (ghosts, curses), but never convincingly enough that you might decide it’s genre-bending. Instead, it only seems noncommittal. There’s a lot of stuff that could be psychologically thrilling, except that it’s wasted because for most of the book you don’t even know what has traumatized them.
But worst of all is the epilogue, which throws in a twist for no good reason at all except character assassination (rather literally) and… I don’t know why else. There doesn’t seem to be any good reason other than ‘it’s a twiiiist!’. I was going to give this book two stars because I did stay up for 2 1/2 hours reading it, but I was so angry after finishing it that it took me like half an hour to finally fall asleep. I decided the epilogue angered me enough that I’d actually give it 1 star–I think maybe the first 1 star I have ever given?
I recommend this to anyone who wants tips on how to anger your reader.