Posted in Uncategorized

Gothic YA: Madeleine Roux’s House of Furies

House of Furies, by Madeleine Roux, (May 2017, HarperTeen), $17.99, ISBN: 9780062498618

Recommended for readers 13+

Teenage runaway Louisa Ditton tries to avoid life on the streets in 1800s England, telling fortunes for a the cost of a meal and a night’s lodging, when she’s offered employment as a maid at Coldthistle House, a boarding house in Northern England. She gratefully accepts the offer, but very quickly realizes that Coldthistle House is a strange place; from Mr. Morningside, the owner, down to Mary, a fellow maid who reminds Louisa of someone from her past, everyone is… different. When she discovers that Coldthistle House is more than just a boarding house – it’s a house of judgement, where the staff wield their own judgement on their guests, Louisa decides she needs to act: she’s convinced that Lee, a lodger traveling with his uncle, is an innocent. Is Lee as genuine and blameless as Louisa thinks he is? Can Louisa trust anyone at Coldthistle House? And who are the mysterious Residents?

I gobbled up Madeleine Roux’s Asylum books and was excited to see a new book from her. House of Furies doesn’t disappoint. Louisa is a conflicted Gothic heroine, stuck in a situation she’s terrified of but committed to the friends she’s made there and keeping her potential love interest, Lee, safe from harm. The cast of characters is rich, from the handsome, mysterious Mr. Morningside, to Gram, the crone-turned-head of Coldthistle who rescues Louisa and brings her to the boarding house. Similar to her Asylum series, the author includes photos and excerpts from a supernatural text that figures heavily into the plot. The ending leaves the possibility of a sequel open, and while I was left satisfied – not a lot of loose ends dangling – I wanted to find out more about everyone at Coldthistle, and to see what Louisa planned on doing next.

Think Penny Dreadful for this audience: have the graphic novels out; display and booktalk with Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s series and Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty. There are an incredible number of resources on Pinterest that will help you create gothic displays and give a nice, creepy feel for any events or booktalks you plan for this one. Could be a great summer reading program!

Posted in Horror, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

The Asylum Series, Volume 3: Catacomb

catacombCatacomb, by Madeleine Roux (Sept. 2015, HarperCollins), $17.99, ISBN: 9780062364050

Recommended for ages 12+

Here we are, the third volume in Madeleine Roux’s Asylum series. For this one, we head to one of the most paranormal-friendly cities in America: New Orleans. Abby, Dan, and Jordan are taking one more road trip; this time, relocating Jordan to his Uncle Steve in Nawlins, where he’ll be living and attending Tulane University.

Everyone has their own agenda, though. Abby’s pretty sure she’s taking a year off from college to pursue her art and photography; she’s investigating a famous criminal who has a history in the South. Dan has leads on his parents – his birth parents, not Paul and Sandy, the adoptive parents who adore him. He wants to understand more about why he was abandoned to the foster care system and hopes to find answers; he’s got some clues he found in the paperwork from Sanctum.

The action starts quickly enough. While on the road, the teens discover they’re being watched, even photographed. And then, Dan starts receiving Facebook messages. From Micah. Who really isn’t anywhere near a reliable Wi-Fi reception, so this presents a huge problem. They find themselves stuck in another mystery, involving another secret society, but this time, Dan’s directly in their sights.

There’s a lot of revelation happening in this book, and the paranormal aspect is back. We’ve got a secret society that’s truly chilling, tied into voudou and grave robbing. The big bad is pretty obvious from the get-go, but he’s supposed to be; the big twist is waiting for you closer to the end. The biggest question I had going in was how the heck do Dan’s parents keep letting him go away on these trips? He comes back beaten, stabbed, and traumatized each time; I’d never let my kid out of the house again.

I enjoyed Catacomb and think it brings all the storylines to a satisfying close. The Brookline connection felt a little forced, so I’m glad it was a piece that Ms. Roux touched on, and let be. The photos are mostly from Abby’s point of view this time, which adds a nice connection with the character and her point of view.

If you’re in the mood for a good, creepy trilogy, the Asylum trilogy is for you. I’m looking forward to reading more from Madeleine Roux!

Posted in Fiction, Horror, Teen, Uncategorized, Young Adult/New Adult

The Asylum series, Volumes 1 and 2: Asylum and Sanctum

asylumAbout two years ago, I picked up Madeleine Roux’s Asylum, because I was in the mood for a good haunted house type story and the cover looked wonderfully creepy. I was not disappointed.

Dan Crawford is a 16 year-old who heads to a New Hampshire College Prep program. When he arrives, he learns that the summer housing is closed, and students are staying in the ramshackle Brookline Dorm, which happens to be a former psychiatric hospital. Shortly after arriving, Dan starts seeing some weird things. With his new friends, Abby – whose aunt was once a patient at Brookline – and Jordan, he starts trying to explore and learn more about Brookline’s secrets, but there are some things he probably shouldn’t look into.

I loved Asylum. Loaded with creepy photographs that enhance the hair-raising mood of the book, the old haunted mental hospital story never fails here. There is solid character development, and some unexpected twists that will keep you riveted to the book until you finish. For anyone who loves a good, creepy haunting story, this is your book. Fans of the Miss Peregrine series will enjoy this series – you’ve got the past interacting with the present and the photographs to enhance the mood, with a twist of horror.

The story continues in Sanctum, which picks up shortly after the events of Asylum. Dan, Abby, and Jordan are all back sactumhome and still in touch, each coping with the events that took place in Asylum. Each of the teens receives odd messages that send them back to Brookline for more answers. They arrive under the guise of prospective students for an open-house weekend, where they meet Micah and Cal, two student hosts. This time around, we delve into secret societies and ghostly messages that send the teens on a hunt for answers around the town and at a creepy, old-time carnival taking place over the weekend.

Sanctum had a bit of sophomore slump for me. We got a little bit away from the ghost story and delved more into secret societies, mind-altering drugs and brainwashing, and cult violence. It was still a good story with some bits of horror present throughout, but parts of the book fell flat for me and I found myself really getting annoyed with Dan, who enters Harry Potter/Order of the Phoenix levels of self-centeredness.

There are still fantastically creepy photos, this time of Brookline and a creepy carnival, so that alone is worth the price of admission if you’re an old-timey horror fan like I am. Abandoned buildings, haunted houses, creepy circus stuff – I’m here for all of it.

The third volume in the Asylum series, Catacomb, hits stores on September 1st. Review coming shortly!

Asylum, by Madeleine Roux
ISBN: 9780062220967
HarperCollins, 8/13
$17.99

Sanctum by Madeleine Roux
ISBN: 9780062220998
HarperCollins, 8/14
$17.99

Recommended for ages 12+