So I am a big fan of Kirsten Miller, my love started years ago when she was writing the Kiki Strike series since then I have bought most of the books she brought out, so naturally I had to get this one. The premise sounded amazing! Sadly, the book was just confusing, at times bland and didn’t seem to scratch the surface at other time a page turner. My feelings on the book varied from wanting to throw it away to holding it tight because I needed to know more. That is also why I won’t be rating it. Because really, parts of this book were 5+ stars, other parts 1 star or a 2 star, there were parts that were 3 stars.
Some trigger warnings: attempted rape, rape (off-screen), murder, drugs abuse, drugging a girl to rape her, abuse, and there are probably a few others I forgot, but these were the biggest ones for me.
When I read the blurb I had expected something more haunting (real haunting), more filled with ghosts, scary things going bump in the manor. Curses! Instead I got an #metoo article turned into a book. Or one of those Twitter threads asking girls to tell their experiences about men and sexual harassment. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I wouldn’t mind a book about that, but it would have to be worked out better, instead of this book that tried to hard to combine too many things. And again, I wanted ghosts… I didn’t get that. Sorry spoiler, but if you come for the ghosts, then pick up another book. This one is more about metaphorical ghosts. Things that haunt people, things they did wrong, things that they can never forget (no matter the drugs). Not real ghosts like Sadako or Casper.
I did like how we slowly learn more about the circumstances that drove Bram to Louth and see that it isn’t just because she was addicted to drugs and that event a few months prior (I want to kick someone in his nuts). It is is a much bigger thing and I loved piecing the pieces together when we got them. What we have in the end shocked me. Because it is such a big puzzle and we see how one puzzle piece affected so many people and ruined so many lives. Not just Bram’s family, but also other families. At times it just felt a bit too much though. Too many connections.
And at times it also felt like the story never went deeper than the surface. Sometimes we would dive head first into the pool, other times it felt like it could go so much deeper and all we did was scratch a bit. And that is a shame.
I did like that we learn more about Grace and what happened to her. I was definitely very curious about her. But, I have to say it was yet another thing that had me disappointed as well.
Not all the characters were likeable. Some of them were predictable that you wouldn’t like them. Like Bram’s mother who cares too much about appearances (Hyacinth Bucket anyone?) or Maisie who I never really got to like despite her being kinder nearer to the end. But then there was James. I thought he was so nice, but in the end I just wanted to throw something at him.
One bit stood out for me: “I took a moment to consider the question. I’d heard plenty of tales about men with hooks and maniacs hiding under the bed. But I couldn’t recall a single story about a male ghost. Maisie was right. All the best ghosts were girls.”
I have many issues with this sentence. One, how the fuck did she never hear about male ghosts? I have read so many books and seen so many series and there is almost an equal amount of guys and girls ghosts. Two, I find this sentence bad because it assumes that girls come back as ghosts and thus stay and have to do their death-routine forever instead of going to heaven or finally be free. While guys apparently don’t turn up as ghosts so they just get to rest. Wtf?
I felt so sad for Bram that she couldn’t see guys normally any more after what happened. That all the guys she met made her go in defence mode or feel bad for herself that she went with one of them (in this case Nolan against whom she was warned many times). That she felt the need to carry repellent and a box cutter. I just wanted to hug her.
The ending just FLEW by. It was the part where all the puzzle pieces truly landed in its place and were the scariness went up a level or two. I loved what certain characters did for Bram, I found that terrific and it made me happy. I hope people can now be on Bram’s side. The last chapter had me even happier and I am glad that this is how it all ended.
All in all, I am still happy I read this book. Yes, it wasn’t always my cup of tea, and definitely could have been better, but there were also good parts. Parts that had me gasping, or going WOW. I am not sure if I would recommend the book. I would say give it a shot if it sounds interesting, but again, metaphorical ghosts, not real ones.