Review 293. Bethany Griffin – The fall.

18241263Title: The fall.
Author: Bethany Griffin.
Pages: 400.
Published: October 7th 2014 by Greenwillow.
Sort: Stand-alone.
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?
Rating:

“I am the one the house speaks to, the one the house flirted with, the one the house won’t let go.”

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.

29 comments

  1. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't love this one, Mel :\ but I'm glad you still enjoyed it. <3 I really loved it, hih. But I get why you had some issues. I didn't, but I get it :D Sort of, lol. Anyway. I have not read the Poe version of it, but glad you enjoyed them both :D Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

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  2. I found the jumps between chapters and periods of time hard to follow at times too. I wish she would've stuck with maybe two periods of time, like 17 and 9 or whatever, instead of going over several years.
    I did love this one a lot though. It was very well written retelling! I love the original and have always thought it could use a retelling. I understand your problems with it, I had the same but I had to give it a 4.5 since I am so enamored with Poe and how she pulled off a retelling that was just as dark and gothic. :)

    -Diamond @Dee's Reads

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    1. Yes, it would have been better if it wasn't all over the place.

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  3. This seems like a very Halloween-ish read, perfect for this time of year. I love Edgar Allan Poe, and I do like the idea of this retelling. The problems you had with it seem quite understandable, jumps between chapters and periods of time can be extremely confusing and hard to follow.
    My interest is peeked though! Seems like a good read to get in the mood for Halloween ;)

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  4. This one sounds perfect for Halloween but too bad about the time jumps. I can't handle when that happens because I've got the worse attention span xD What I may do is check out The Fall of the House of Usher though! Great review, Mel! x

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  5. I can't believe this hasn't shown up on my radar as of yet! I'm a big Poe fan and like to read the YA that is influenced by him. Maybe this will go on my reading list, but further down the chart. I don't think I can handle the madness right now. But it's nice to hear the author did a good job with it. I read Ashes on the Waves recently, which is based off of Anabel Lee and it slaughtered the poem. I wasn't very happy.

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    1. I think, as a Poe fan, you will really like this one :)

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  6. I loved this one so much! But yea, I know even as I was reading it that it wouldn't be for everyone. Like you, I searched out a copy of the inspiration story; I really thought it was perfect what Griffiths did with the original story, changing the POV to Madeline. Such a great Halloween read!

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  7. Wait...the house is alive?! Okay. I need to read this. xD I really suck at finding honest-to-goodness freaky creepy books. I see YA ones go around the blogosphere, but no one seems particularly creeped out. *sigh* Once I eat my current TBR I'm going to go for a real deep search for downright freaky stuff. But I've still got this one on my wishlist. I totally understand though, how books get a bit dry if they don't have much scenery variation. :|

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    1. Yes, that is such an interesting promise huh :D

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  8. I'm a huge fan of Poe's works, but most of the reviews for this book have been less than favourable, so I'm struggling with adding it to my to-read shelf. The time jumping POVs sound a bit muddled, and the one location setting rarely works out well. At least the author delivered on the creep factor because had that been lacking as well, I would have considered this a mega fail.

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  9. I wasn't the biggest fan of Bethany Griffin's other book (The Masque of Red Death) and it kind of seems like this book is in a similar vein to that one. I usually don't mind jumping around with POVs, but if the pace is slow, I can get pretty easily bored with mystery/thrillers. Might give this one a pass.

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  10. This does sound creepy but I can understand how the jumps back and forth would interrupt the flow of the story and make it less enjoyable. Great review, Mel! :)

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  11. I never really paid much attention to this book before, but it does sound super creepy, I do like the sound of giving us the story from different times, but I agree you do need it to make a bit more sense! Glad that you enjoyed this book overall Mel! :)

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  12. My God, I just now realized that Bethany is a Poe fanatic! I'm currently reading Masque of the Red Death and didn't know it was a re imagined Poe until I went to her FAQs. I'll check this one out too...eventually.

    Amber Elise @Du Livre

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  13. I was hoping this was going to be really good! I did like her other series Masque though I haven't finished it as of yet!

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  14. I love that she has written another Poe inspired story! It sounds very interesting, but I'm not sure this would be for me though since I didn't love Masque and the issues you had with this would probably really bother me. Great review though Mel!

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  15. Ooh, I love that this is spooky! Maybe I'll pick it up for Halloween this year :D It sounds so interesting. I really need to get into more scary/spooky books :) I'm a scardy cat though, so we'll see! Great review!

    Tori @ Bookish Affairs

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  16. Although this one does sound interesting, the fact that it is outside my usual preferred genres and was a little boring/difficult to follow at times makes me think I won't read it.

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  17. I just nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! http://www.thebookishowl.net/?p=5180 :)

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  18. I was the black sheep with Bethany Griffin's other Poe adaptations Masque of the Red Death, so I'd started out feeling like I was going to avoid this one altogether. So far, the reviews I've read have matched up with yours. Readers seem to be liking the atmospheric setting but getting bored with all the action taking place within the confines of that house. Your issues with the timeline jumps added to that has me thinking I'll stick by my decision to pass on this one. I wish you'd liked this one more Mel, but thanks for the lovely review ^^ ♥

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  19. Ooh I've seen this around during my placement at Orion and was curious about it. It does sound awfully creepy - a real living house! And I think the doctors sound sort of creepy too - that they just keep testing her and monitoring her progress instead of trying to save her. I'm not sure I'd be able to read it though. I dislike books that jump around too much and that sounds like the main issue you had with this book. Still, great book to read for this time of year!

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    1. There is no way to save her, so they are more interesting to keep up with her progress. It's bizarre to see how much they enjoyed that work.

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  20. Eeh, so far I haven't been seeing too many great reviews for this book, which is such a shame since it has such an interesting concept. I'm really glad that the story did manage to be creepy in some way, though -- that was one of the aspects I was looking forward to most! And yeah, I see what you mean about a story only set in one place being boring. You know I get bored easily, so that might be an issue...

    So this book ends with a cliffhanger, too? (Not sure if this is the first in a series or just a standalone.) Whatever it is, abrupt endings are a huge no-no in a book, unless the rest of the book was fantastic. It's a really bad feeling when you flip to the next page only to find that it's the last page of the story when you were expecting so much more.

    Timeline jumps are hard to do! So I guess I'm not that surprised that it wasn't that well done here, heh. All the same, I'm happy that Bethany Griffin managed to create a pretty original retelling of Poe's classic. By the way, which one did you prefer? The original or Griffin's retelling?

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    1. I would say this is a stand-alone, but it was just too abrupt.

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    2. And I clicked too fast on Publish. I think I would prefer the original version :) The ending was more clear and it has an even more.. crazy atmosphere.

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  21. I feel like I am really, really going to like this book despite the setting being in one place!

    I mean, even though there were things you did not like, The Fall still really, really appeals to me. Although, ugh abrupt ending, those aren't my jam. But still, sounds like a good autumn read!

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  22. Great review. I have been struggling to decide whether I want to read this or not, you've made me glad I didn't. It doesn't sound terrible but it seems like it has issues that would really get to me. Especially a rushed ending that leaves me feeling confused. I really hate rushed endings!

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