When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn’t suffer.
But Isabella’s parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella’s… condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor.
Or is there…?
**** ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review ****
This is a novella so it’s pretty short at 104 pages. However, I really loved the overall atmosphere of the book it’s very much a gothic horror and reminded me of horror movies such as “The Boy” and “The Haunting” (which is based off of “The Haunting of Hill House”). I really loved how creepy and yet elegant everything was. Though, this was all I really enjoyed about “The Atrocities”.
Right off the bat we meet our main character, Danna, as she navigates a hedge maze filled with disturbing, horrific statues in order to reach a house where she is to interview for a governess position. The decor inside the house is just as sinister as the statues, known as the Atrocities, outside. Overall the house and it’s creepy statues and paintings were the scariest part of this novella, they generated a very eerie atmosphere (as I already briefly mentioned).
The house and owners, however, are hiding some secrets and Danna learns that the girl she came to tutor died a few months ago. So the rest of the story is sort of a “Is there a ghost? Is there not a ghost?” thing, you never really know what’s truly going on. Danna also suffers from bouts of what appear to be PTSD throughout the novella as well, though we never learn anything or get any explanation on this whatsoever. That irritated me a bit, I think it was meant to develop her character more but I personally felt it didn’t do much.
Then there’s that ending. I really loathed the ending. It came super abruptly and offers zero explanation as to what the hell I was reading the entire time. I was left 100% confused and this wasn’t a case of an “open ending” where it’s up to interpretation either. The plot made no sense to me by the end of the story.
As far as the characters go, they were alright. I wasn’t too impressed but considering this story relied more heavily on atmosphere and writing it’s more forgivable. I didn’t find anyone all that interesting, they didn’t really have much in the way of personality.
Writing? Fantastic. It did a great job of setting the atmosphere and mood, it’s very eerie. I will definitely be curious as to what else Shipp will write, that’s for sure.
What I Loved:
- Creepy atmosphere
What I Didn’t Love:
- Plot was lacking and not very driven
- Plot holes
- Zero explanation on the plot and events
- Abrupt Ending
I know I listed more things that I disliked than I liked but the writing and atmosphere really bring it up to a 3 star rating from me. It was a good novella but it just wasn’t explained or fleshed out enough for my tastes.