Mini Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin

The Fall
Bethany Griffin

Greenwillow Books
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Released October 7, 2014
400 pages
YA / Horror / Retellings

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Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

I think I read The Fall of the House of Usher back in high school, but that was so long ago that I couldn’t tell you many details about it. So while I can’t speak to how The Fall is as an adaptation or reimagining of that classic horror story, I can say that it is a fascinating story all on its own. It bounces back and forth over the years of Madeline Usher’s doomed life. At the start of the book, we see her inevitable fate only to bounce back to her at the age of 9 to see how everything fell apart.

Madeline and her twin brother are the latest in the Usher line, a family long ago cursed to live in a decrepit mansion that haunts their every moment. The house has taken a particular interest in Madeline, declaring her the heir to the family’s curse. She watches as her parents quickly lose their mental faculties and watches as her twin brother is sent away in an attempt to save his sanity. All the while Madeline grows up with the house being equal parts protector and tormentor.

From the first page to the last, The Fall maintains a solid creepy tone with ghosts haunting every page (sometimes quite literally). Griffin has a deft hand at atmospheric writing that left me constantly looking over my shoulder in fear that one of her ghosts would pop up behind me. The chapters are broken up into tiny pieces, often lasting no more than three pages, so this book reads incredibly quickly and ended much faster than I would have thought its 400 pages would have warranted.

The ending is a little muddled to me – and I mean, literally, the ending as in the last two or three pages. Perhaps if I remembered more of the original story, it would have been a clearer ending, but despite that one slip up, The Fall was a very satisfying read.

While it can easily classify as a horror novel, it’s of the old-school variety without all the gore and violence that is common of more modern horror novels. Griffin has written an extremely fast-paced and intrigue suspense story with a female protagonist fighting her fate to become something more than what outside forces will allow her to be. This is a great read building up to Halloween if you’re looking for a more old-school type of scare.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.