The Fall by Bethany Griffin, published by Orion Children's Books on 2nd October 2014
Madeline and her twin brother Roderick have the Usher name, the Usher house - and the Usher disease. Something is wrong with the family's blood - and it seems to have spread to the house itself. Sometimes Madeline even thinks that the house is alive... When Roderick is sent away to school, the house seems to want revenge on the one member of the Usher family left behind: Madeline herself.
This book is a retelling of Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Fall of the House of Usher'. I wasn't familiar at all with the original so I really had no idea how the story was going to unfold and after the fantastic opening which had me hook, line and sinker, I was prepared for anything to happen!
The story involves twins Madeline and Roderick Usher, who are inflicted with a curse which has blighted the lives of all Ushers before them. When Roderick is sent away to school, Madeline is left alone in the house which seems determined to have it's revenge on her.
Bethany Griffin's personification of the house was excellent. It seemed to ooze maleficence and evil appeared to seep through the walls and floorboards. It was extremely creepy and incredibly atmospheric. It's certainly not a house that I would want to spend the night in.
The narrative structure was unusual and made the story a little difficult to follow at times. Madeline recounts events but each chapter jumps around to when she is at a different age. This meant that the plot unfolded at a slow pace. Because of this I found that my attention wandered in the middle and as it's a fairly long book, I kept waiting for something more to happen.
Deliciously gothic and mysterious, I was puzzled by some aspects of the story but wanted to keep reading because I felt like the payoff at the end was going to be worth it. I won't give anything away apart from to say that this is a book which will keep you thinking long after the final pages. I'm still not sure that I have everything straight in my head! I'd like to read Poe's original story now as well, so that I can compare the two.
If you're a fan of the gothic and the bizarre then I would recommend that you give 'The Fall' a read.