Rating: 4 stars
Okay. So, it’s been a few days
(or six) since I finished this book. But I really had to get my thoughts together on this one.
I am still struggling with the rating, because there are parts about this book that just scream, “3 STARS!”, but there was so much that was good about this book, that I think I finally just decided to let it outweigh the bad (for the most part).
Alright. No more stalling. Lets get to it. Venture on for lots of spoilers (because that’s pretty much what I do in these reviews…spoil it all).
Balog sets this book up with 15 year old Seda who is on the verge of a birthday being stuck out in the middle of nowhere with her family in a murder mansion that her mother has inherited from her aunt and uncle. Seda’s mother wants to stick around and make sure the house is sold to someone who will run it as the murder house it once was in its glory days. It snows, and some teen kids get trapped with the family. Murder (seemingly) ensues and readers are hanging on to every chapter to figure out exactly what the hell is going on in this damn book.
So, lets start with the bad, because these things just keep plaguing me and I have to put the burden on to someone else.
So… Seda is a little nuts. Like has an imaginary friend inside her who is supposed to be the twin she consumed in the womb before birth kind of crazy. Readers are pretty much just supposed to believe that no one realizes how off Seda is, even though she’s like, REALLY FREAKING OFF. I had a really hard time understanding how someone who claims to have a normal, dreary existence back in Boston (I think that’s where they were from…) is just suddenly so effing weird and standoffish and antisocial. It’s like she’s picked up these traits out of no where and we as readers are expected to just.. go with it. It made Seda extremely hard to connect to as a character, even though I have tons of social anxiety and might have understood at least some of her thought process had it not just appeared out of no where.
Next up on the list of things that bothered me to no end: There is a whole damn moment dedicated to some dark, almost inhuman figure being spotted crawling and ducking behind a wall that Seda supposedly sees towards the beginning of the book. THIS NEVER GETS ANY EXPLANATION! THE STORY NEVER COMES BACK TO IT TO MAKE SOME SENSE OUT OF IT! I had hopes that the ending of the book would help me connect the dots but sure enough… Nope! Just left hanging on that one. I know, I know. I’m complaining about something really stupid that probably didn’t bother anyone else. But come on now, you can’t just act like there’s an unworldly presence stalking the halls and then never come back to it. Just leave it out if you can’t even explain it yourself, Balog.
My last pet peeve for this one was the writing. I really didn’t like it. Like at all. I adored the plot and I read the book in two sittings that took place all in 24 hours. It was such a great mystery that took me by complete surprise with the ending. But the writing… it was so choppy and made Seda seem so disconnected from the story. It was a let down, honestly. I would’ve probably sucked it up and gave the book another .5 had the writing not put me off so much. Ah, the disappointment…
On to the good stuff!
You will NEVER guess the ending! At least, I didn’t. Making Seda believe she wasn’t crazy and that her not-actually-dead twin brother was the big bad murderer all along was a good, predictable twist. But then changing it up to all just be a prank Seda’s mother and student’s pulled was really something else. It clicked in my head as soon as they yell their version of “Gotcha!” that we are now left to believe that Seda has actually killed two people. “Gotcha, your brother really is dead!” “Gotcha, that’s not him you left locked in a freezer to die!” “Gotcha, no one’s dead besides the people you killed!” WHO KNEW!? Not me, that’s for damn sure.
The missing father throughout the entire book is supposed to be this huge POS that left Seda’s mother when she decided to stay at the mansion to fix it up, but it turns out… SEDA FREAKING KILLED HIM! I was not prepared. I really wasn’t (Sidenote- if you didn’t believe me about the spoilers, you should’ve turned back a long time ago. I’d say I’m sorry, but I did warn you).
So yes, this mystery was planned out so well that I found it nearly impossible to put down, even with my hatred for the writing itself. Balog did such a great job of tricking me into thinking that the ending was going to be so predictable. All of her plot twists were so simple you could see them coming chapters away. But it is my own belief that she did this on purpose, to set you up. She makes you think you’ve got it allllllllll figured it out and then…. GOTCHA!
Overall, I enjoyed the book enough to decide to add it to my would-recommend shelf. If anyone ever asks me for a good, quick thriller read, I will definitely be pointing them in your direction Cyn Balog.