Title: THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS
Author: Amy Lukavics
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult Horror
ISBN: 0373211945 (ISBN13: 9780373211944)
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.
Lucy Acosta doesn’t have much of a family. Her mother died when she was three years old, her father is distant and cold, and the only real affection she can find within the walls of her old family estate comes from her cousin Margaret and her Aunt Penelope.
The newfound affection doesn’t last long, and one of her relatives goes missing after wandering outside of the estate. Lucy finds herself confronted with a slew of problems. Her cousin Margaret seems to be hearing voices through the walls of the house, her father is still keen on hosting a dinner party for “the club”, and Lucy finds herself surrounded with more questions than she has answers to -- especially in regards to the estate, and why in the world her father is more worried about the estate than her relative that disappeared.
Margaret was by far my favorite character in the book. I absolutely loved Lucy’s perspective, but there was something unique about Margaret that made me connect with her character. It’s clear from the beginning of the book that Margaret is an introvert. She prefers to keep to herself most of the time and it takes a lot for her to like and eventually trust a person. She is almost a perfect contrast of Lucy’s character -- at least in my mind -- which adds dimension and complexity to the story because of how she not only drives the plot but how she deals with the main conflict as well.
While I most enjoyed seeing Margaret’s way of coping with the mysterious disappearance and also how it affected her, I also appreciated seeing the different coping mechanisms of each character. Lucy’s curiosity about the disappearance and questioning of her father shows that she’s not afraid of a little challenge, or the unknown. Margaret’s isolation means that there is more to her than meets the eye, or more emotion to her than she might want to admit. Lucy’s father’s unhealthy obsession with a “club dinner party” means that something might be up in the Acosta estate. The decisions that each character makes while in grieving helps to illustrate who they are as characters. Lukavics beautifully illustrates how grief can change a person, but also how grief affects each person in their own way, while still setting up the greater plot of the story.
I loved WOMEN IN THE WALLS because the world building, character development and plot progression were all happening at the same time. Within the same page, I picked up details about each character, learned new information about the plot and constructed the social dynamic in Lucy’s world. Nothing felt “bogged down” to me. I feel that this book has a very good balance of these important elements.
In terms of pacing, I loved how the book was structured. The synopsis does give some of the plot elements away rather than just general context of the world, but I still enjoyed it reading the book even if I knew what the characters didn’t at some points.
The book didn’t jump straight into the “voices in the walls” and that’s what I enjoyed. Lukavics gives context to that situation, forms solid characters and develops the world before that all happens. I had a sense of who the characters were before the main plot drives the book. I was able to see how the plot events altered each character because of how the book was structured and paced. Had the book been more rushed in the beginning, or even if the book had been shorter, I probably wouldn’t have been able to pick up on that.
I will note that I was somewhat disappointed with the ending. I loved the pacing of the book, but when all of the information and plot-twists were being revealed, I felt that it was being revealed to me too fast. I felt as if it was an information dump -- I couldn’t quite understand what was happening or even why it was happening -- but that may have also been because I wasn’t expecting that kind of ending in the first place. I don’t say this often with books, but I wish THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS was a little bit longer so that the ending had the same chance for development, character reactions, and, ultimately, closure.
I do have to put a disclaimer for the content of this book, just because as I was reading it I found some content to be slightly disturbing and it made me a little bit uncomfortable as I was reading this book. This book is very heavy on descriptions, especially that of gore/death. Also, the characters in the book also deal with self-harm and there are descriptions of that process. If you are sensitive to suicide, self-harm or even descriptions of gore, just be cautious going into this book.
THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS is a perfect read for Halloween! Lukavics blends mystery, intrigue, and horror together. She creates a bone-chilling thrill-ride of a story, and any reader who loves the “darker” side of young adult novels will find themselves in love with this story.
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5 Stars
I enjoyed it!