Author: Amy LukavicsSeries: Standalone
Released: September 27 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 304 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.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.
The Women in the Walls is a mildly disappointing sophomore novel by Amy Lukavics, author of Daughters Unto Devils. It delivers all the things one expects from such a read – the deep atmosphere, the chilling moments, the compelling paranormal mystery – but it proves lacking in terms of substance, characterization or any real depth of emotion.
When Lucy’s beloved aunt goes missing, strange things start happening in her house. The cook commits suicide, her cousin Margaret is talking to walls, and her aloof father lies about reporting her aunt missing to the authorities. Lucy herself is struggling to come to terms with her aunt’s disappearance. Prone to self-harm since she was a kid, she constantly fights the desire to hurt herself to the point of leaving scars.
As a protagonist, Lucy inspires neither confidence nor affection. In fact, her personality is very difficult to pinpoint or describe. She always appears too whiny, forever on the verge of tears, and her lack of action and her cowardice are enough to annoy and disappoint even the most patient reader. Mostly we are told things about her, but never shown enough to believe. We are told that she often feels awful enough to cut herself deeply, but those feelings never reach us. We are told that she and Margaret are best friends, but their bond never manifests. If anything, it’s clear that Margaret barely tolerates Lucy and that jealously long ago destroyed any real connection the girls might have had.
It needs to be said that Lukavics does an excellent job scaring the living daylights out of us. Her writing is very evocative when it needs to be and she is capable of provoking real fear and disgust. In terms of pacing, however, she leaves us with too many problems to count. Things happen at the beginning and at the very end. The whole middle part of the book seems like a filler we could have done without. The revelations, such as they are, all happen in the final pages. Unfortunately by that point, we are mostly uninterested in Lucy or her fate.
The novel’s contemporary setting is also quite confusing. The (admittedly odd) values of Lucy’s family, their behavior and their way of life, all seem to belong to a historical setting, perhaps early 20th century. The bits of contemporary life that were thrown in haphazardly were somewhat jarring.
The Women in the Walls leaves us with a rather bland taste in our mouths, made more tolerable by Lukavics’ potential, which can be read as a promise of better things to come. With some work on characterization and pacing, her next novel, The Ravenous, might turn out to be a much better read.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.