What: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
Who: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
When: October 2016
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Simon & Schuster Australia for review.
Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.
When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
I like to be creeped out by novels. Whenever I go into a mystery/thriller or horror book my main desire is to be creeped out and intrigued. Or both in equal measure. So when I read about The Women in the Walls I thought that it could be the perfectly creepy book I’ve always wanted to read.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. That isn’t to say that there weren’t creepy moments, but it wasn’t a creepy book overall. For me, at least.
The first few paragraphs of The Women in the Walls were so captivating that I sat down and started reading the entire book afterwards. But I feel like things just went downhill from there. A lot of the book focuses on the main character, Lucy, rattling around her big, fancy house and not doing much at all. The plot mainly circles around Lucy’s cousin and how she thinks she’s talking to her missing mother inside the walls. The only horror aspect of the book only really appeared towards the end, and then it was all so abrupt and out of the blue that it seemed pretty gratuitous if I’m being honest.
I was actually quite confused as to what time the book was set in because a lot of the things that happened and were referenced seemed to be quite outdated (no phones, dinner parties, tutors), but then Lucy was researching schools later on and she would have had to be using the internet because she didn’t mention anything about ordering brochures from individual schools (and even if she had how would she have known about the schools to begin with?). So that was a bit of a flaw when reading.
There were a lot of mental health aspects in The Women in the Walls (see the trigger warning below), and absolutely none of them were ever explored. For example, Lucy self harms multiple times in the book, and her cousin knows about it, and yet the cousin doesn’t do anything, and Lucy never really goes beyond simply thinking about why she does it. She attempts to stop, but then relapses almost immediately after. The inclusion of self harm as a topic in this book was handled incredibly badly, and I wonder why it was included because there was no exploration of it in any kind of positive way (Lucy’s cousin or other family members helping or even talking to her about it etc.). It was quite distasteful to me in that way because I think if you’re going to include such a heavy and triggering theme in your book it shouldn’t just be there for the gore factor.
The ending was quite anticlimactic, and I felt somewhat let down by it. There was no real reason given for why what happened happened and that is one of the things I find most annoying when I watch a horror movie. There should always be a why in general, and there should always be a why that character, as well. In The Women in the Walls there wasn’t much of either whys, which was quite annoying.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed in The Women in the Walls. I was hoping for a good horror book, but instead I was left with gratuitous horror, and a lack of exploration of serious and multiple mental health issues.
© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning: self harm (repeated and graphic), suicide of a family member, missing family member, multiple murders (one possble torture/decapitation), deceased parent, suicidal ideation, and use of ableist language in this novel