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women-in-the-wallsWhat: 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.

2cats2I 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as to what time the book was set in because a lot of the things that happened and were referenced seemed to be quite outdated (no phones, dinner parties, tutors), but then Lucy was researching schools later on and she would have had to be using the internet because she didn’t mention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

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Posted on: December 12, 2016 • By: Chiara

10 Responses to Review: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

  1. Kayla says:

    Aw, that’s so disappointing to hear! Even as I read the summary, never having heard of this book before, I thought the concept could be good if it was done well. I think that the creep factor would have to be there, for me, to really get into it. Otherwise it might seem a little mundane. That’s also interesting, about the seemingly fluid time period. It’s frustrating, and I think authors are doing that more often these days. It can be hard to determine if they’re doing that on purpose or if it’s just poor editing!

    Thanks for the review :)

    • Chiara says:

      It was super disappointing! There was no creep factor in this book at all for me :( And the time period thing was so weird! I didn’t know whether it was on purpose or not, and even if it was it didn’t serve any purpose that I could see!

      No problem :)

  2. Yes! That’s how I felt about Lucy’s cutting too, but you put it into such better words than I did…it was like there for the “blood/fear/horror” factor, instead of actually talking about how it’s an illness and the triggers and roots and causes. So disappointing. And kind of dismissive, also?? Mental illness is never a topic to be done flippantly, imo.
    Ack, I’ve yet to find a book that totally freaks me out.🙈🙊 The ending was super creepy for this one and I WAS DISTURBED, but like you said, it just came all in a rush??
    Grr, and that father. When Lucy actually does say she’s struggling he’s like “go take a nap”. Like wut even dude. He was a really terrible parent.

    • Chiara says:

      I was kind of shocked to read about it, and how it was completely dismissed. It was such a turn off for me because such a prevalent and serious issue should not be used in the way it was in this book.

      Right? Maybe truly scary YA books don’t exist :(

      Oh, the father was TERRIBLE. I was not sad at all when his fate came around, to be honest.

  3. My hackles went up at the whole “self harm for no particular reason” thing. That is one of the worst things I can think of in books, honestly – it’s such an important topic to explore & destigmatise so that sufferers actually feel safe getting help, so if you’re going to do it I want you to do it right, you know?? Ugh. I always hate it when mental illness topics aren’t properly discussed in literature, but this one is just… a whole new level of horrible, honestly. Instant turnoff for me.

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, I was pretty horrified by the way that the topic was handled in this book (which was not at all) because you can’t just use something like that to make a book ~dark and gory~. Just. No.

  4. This book was totally all over the place, in my opinion, which breaks my heart, because I was SO EXCITED to see what the author would create after her creepy and gory debut. Alas, I was incredibly disappointed. The pacing was terrible, the characters impossible to connect to and the writing less than perfect. There were barely any creepy scenes, I can recall only one that left me gasping and, well, happy, because that’s what I was looking for when opening this book (the gory dinner). The way Lucy’s cutting was used to make the atmosphere darker was absolutely disgusting.
    Anyhow, great review. Sad this one didn’t work out for you either. :(
    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    • Chiara says:

      I totally agree with you! I didn’t feel like much of anything flowed or fit very well in this book :( I had heard amazing things about this author’s first book so it was super disappointing :( And yes, I was not a fan of how self harm was used in this book.

      Thanks, Veronika! I’m sad that we didn’t like this *sigh*

  5. Damn, this sucks. I really thought it was going to be incredibly creepy and atmospheric. Not having an answer for anything is incredibly frustrating! I hate not knowing the reasons too.

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