By Katrina Leno
Which begins like this:
She couldn’t remember the first book she had eaten.Horrid by Katrina Leno
I’m a subscriber to OwlCrate (a YA monthly book subscription), which I *love*. It’s like getting a surprise gift in the mail every month. Well, a gift for myself that I paid for. But a surprise, nonetheless! Every month includes a newly published book along with bookish goodies. I’m not going to lie, the goodies are my favorite part of the box. It is so fun to see the different surprises the OwlCrate team comes up with. This month included a very soft blanket to snuggle up in when reading on cool fall evenings. The blanket itself has the full text of the Edgar Allen Poe poem “The Raven.” Really fun, and a great accessory in my living room.
This month’s (September) theme is “A Glorious Haunting,” and the book pick is Horrid by Katrina Leno. The cover is legitimately creepy (although the OwlCrate cover features red roses which are significantly LESS creepy than the real cover with black roses) and the summary promises an intriguing ghost story. This weekend felt like the right time to dive into this haunting YA tale. (It was a perfect time: I couldn’t put it down, and finished in a day.)
I caution all readers to avoid reading the full summary on the inside flap of the book and Goodreads. Just stick to the first paragraph. I think the rest gives away way too much of the book: “Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.”
You all know that I’m not a big fan of spoilers, so I won’t really talk about the actual story here. This is definitely one that is more fun to discover as you read. I found Jane’s character very likable – she’s a mystery lover who has a special affinity for Agatha Christie. She’s doing her best to accept the hand that life has dealt her. In a matter of weeks, her life has been completely uprooted and she finds herself in a new town, living in a spooky old family home, and realizing that she really knows nothing about her mother’s mysterious childhood.
The book is very atmospheric, and the house feels like a character of it’s own at times. Ms. Leno does a great job of slowly building up tension, and then giving the reader a break with a change of scenery away from the house before starting the build up again. To be perfectly honest, one of the reasons I finished the book in one day was it was midnight, I was in bed and nearing the end of the book, the spookiness was in full swing, and I knew I needed to get to the end or I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep.
(In the end, this reading strategy backfired, as the ending was one of those where it just left me wondering what happens next?! And I have so many questions about the story right now…)
Creepy, atmospheric, fun, keeps you guessing, spooky…all in all, a perfect read for a chilly October day.