Author: Bethany Griffin.
Published: October 7th 2014 by Greenwillow.
Source: Edelweiss & Publisher.
Madeline Usher is doomed. She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin. Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house. In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down?
Madeline Usher is cursed, just like everyone before her in the family. Her twin brother was send away by their mother in the hope to break free from the curse. Both of their parents die and Madeline is locked in the house together with her doctors. They are monitoring everything and take daily blood samples. The house is a nightmare. It changes and shifts. It talks to Madeline and threatens her, but also protects her in a certain way. It’s a very strange sort of relationship to read about.
Then the time comes where Madeline gets her fits. It’s the first sign of the madness that slowly creeps into the heirs from the house. It’s an illness that slowly takes over and always ends in an early death. Madeline sees only one way to escape before it claims her life: she must destroy the house, but that’s not an easy task. The house is alive and not ready to let her go.
The book started out all right. I liked the setting and the overall creepiness of the story. The idea of a living house that changes around you and seeps into your body was scary. Madeline sees how it takes her parents away from her and now she is waiting, because she is next in line. Doctors are fascinated by it and she gets daily tests to follow her progress. The thing is; with a setting that takes place in one location, things do get a little boring. This book would have benefited from less middle part and a better, longer ending. It was a bit abrupt and left me unsatisfied and confused at first. It took me a couple of minutes to realize what happened.
The thing that gave me mixed feelings were the chapters. They switch between different points in Madeline's life. Every chapter tackled another age and sometimes even a diary entry written by a woman called Liz. It was sometimes confusing to follow the ‘now’ story and I could have done with a little less hopping around. It made me feel disconnected from Madeline and what was going on in the present story line.
After finishing the book I hunted down a free (legal!) copy of the original story, Edgar Allan Poe - The fall of the house of Usher and I must applaud Bethany for the way she created her own story. It's influenced by Edgar's version, but it has it's own voice and that was nicely done. I only wish she had handled the jumps in timeline a little better.