Thursday 19 November 2020

Book Review | Horrid by Katrina Leno

Title: Horrid 
Author: Katrina Leno • Author's Site 
Publication Date: 15th September 2020 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Owned Physical Copy
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Horror  


Trigger and Content Warnings: pica (mostly xylophagia/paper, but mention of hair and flowers, too), loss of a parent/sibling/child, scenes with blood, panic attacks


Following her father's death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor's doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone...and more tormented.

As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident "bad seed," struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane's mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won't reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the "storage room" her mom has kept locked isn't for storage at all--it's a little girl's bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears....

Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more...horrid?



My Thoughts

“Three little girls all eating things they weren’t supposed to eat. Three little girls all eating things in order to fill their bodies with something other than the anger, the rage, that would otherwise consume them.”

This was a really anticipated read for me so much so that when I found out that it was going to be included in an Owlcrate box, I went ahead and ordered myself one so I would have the pretty signed edition. It was definitely worth it, I mean look at how gorgeous that cover is! I read this for my first prompt for the 1000 Doors Readathon; to read a book that has something to do with 5. I interepreted this as a five star prediction which whilst this book ended up being a four star, it was still a great read for me.

This is a YA horror that follows Jane as she and her mother move back to her mother's childhood home in Maine. When they arrive they are met with a dilapidated old house which begins to exhibit some strange behaviour made even more weird by the fact that there is a child's bedroom locked away that Jane's mother refuses to aknowledge. Eventually, long buried secrets begin to emerge.

I love creepy, haunted house stories and this book is definitely a winner if you also like that sort of thing. It reminded me a lot of The Haunting of Hill House, maybe slightly tamer but definitely with those kind of vibes. It's atmospheric in a very subtle way, the creepiness lingers in the background and builds and builds until the final conclusion. It's not overtly scary but it definitely allows you to become more and more on edge the more the story progresses.

The way Leno handles grief and Jane's anger was one of my favourite parts of the book. The rage that Jane feels is palpable through the pages, she struggles with containing her emotions and dealing with them in a healthy and unharmful way. Jane masks her pain through pica, a disorder where someone eats things that are not classed as food, in Jane's case it's paper from books. I hadn't come across this disorder before but I thought it was represented very realistically with Jane feeling a consuming need to do it whenever she becomes overwhelmed. It's definitely prompted me to do more research into this area of mental health.

I think I had reservations with character development particularly with the secondary characters. Jane's new friends have very basic personalities and aren't used much really, they ended up just very flat. There isn't a romance in this book but there is a boy that Jane works with that could of developed into something more but it isn't explored. I liked that a romance wasn't needed, it's hinted at but again this character isn't really done much with and you're left wondering what purpose he served. Jane's mother was an interesting character and I really wanted her and Jane to have been more communicative with each other.

My other struggle was with the ending. I keep going back and forth over my feelings because in one way I thought it worked really well but then I'll think about it and want more depth and conclusion from it. It's pretty abrupt but from what I can tell though, Katrina Leno has a habit of leaving readers to make their own conclusions for the characters. I did like the ending overall, I just wanted some expansion and just a bit more time with the characters.  

Overall, this is a great spooky, autumnal book that I can actually see myself revisiting in the future.I loved Leno's writing so I'm definitely wanting to check out more of Katrina Leno's work, I know Summer of Salt is very popular so maybe I'll pick that one up next.


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