What It’s About: Phoebe has done something terrible. Only…she can’t remember what it was. It’s bad enough that it causes her family (mother, stepfather, half-sister) to move from California to a small town in England, to her stepfather’s ancestral estate.
Soon, Phoebe is embroiled in the mystery of Madame Arnaud, whom she thinks is a ghost. She soon discovers the house has many, many secrets and none of them are good. Madame Arnaud, it turns out, is very, very real. And she’s after Phoebe’s two-year old sister, Tabby.
Along the way, Phoebe meets Miles, a local boy. With Miles’s help, Phoebe begins to discover the truth about the house, Madame Arnaud, and what really happened to her in California.
Thoughts: (Warning, this includes spoilers!) Sometimes I hate when I figure out the “truth” of the story when I’m not even halfway through. (And I swear, I didn’t peak to the end!) (And, side note 2: I figured it out before the characters.) However, even figuring out part of the mystery surrounding the novel, it didn’t take away from the story being told. Carthage, which is a pen name, is an obvious storyteller. The story is engrossing. There are times, however, that I wanted to skip over some of the massive description that became a little boring. Especially at the end. Once the story is “finished,” Carthage continued for at least 10 pages that just became too much and should have been cut in revision/edit.
I picked up the book because the endorsement was, “…if you like AMERICAN HORROR STORY…”, so of course I had to get it. (If I hadn’t already been hooked by the title and cover.) And it does remind me of AHS, in parts. It also reminds me of, ready for the spoiler? THE SIXTH SENSE. Which, disappointing.
That Madame Arnaud wasn’t a ghost, but a vampire of sorts, was pretty awesome. It also followed more of the tale of Elizabeth Bathory instead of Dracula. (Side note 3: I recently watched a documentary on Bathory, so I was intrigued.) There’s a satisfying conclusion to the novel, which gives every one the happy ending feeling. However, I’m intrigued how Carthage is going to continue Phoebe’s story in the next novel, which is released in 2016.
Overall: If you’re a fan of horror and haunted houses, and AHS, this book is a definite read. Also, if you liked Madeline Roux’s ASYLUM, you should give this novel a try, too.
Rating: 7.5/10 stars.