Title: The Furies
Author: Katie Lowe
Release Date: 2/5/2019
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 45
(see breakdown below)
I received a free eARC copy from , via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
From Goodreads: In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. The novel opens with this image, as related to us by the narrator, Violet, looking back on the night it happened from the present day, before returning to relate the series of events leading up to the girl’s murder.
After an accident involving her Dad and sister, Violet joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls school in a quiet coastal town, which has an unpleasant history as the site of famous 17th century witch trials. Violet quickly finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, alongside Robin, Grace, and Alex – led by their charismatic art teacher, Annabel.
While Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals – warning the girls off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology – the girls start to believe that magic is real, and that they can harness it. But when the body of a former member of the society – Robin’s best friend, with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance – is found dead on campus nine months after she disappeared, Violet begins to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.
NOTE: THIS BOOK CONTAINS SCENES DEALING WITH VIOLENCE, DOMESTIC/PARENTAL ABUSE, DRUG USE, ALCOHOLISM, SEX WITH ISSUES REGARDING CONCENT AND SEX SCENES UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS/ALCHOHOL. IF YOU FIND THESE TOPICS UPSETTING THIS MAY NOT BE THE BOOK FOR YOU.
This was such an atmospheric and twisting read that left you questioning if the events of the book were true or the exaggeration of the narrator. The choice of the narrator is a truely fascinating element of this novel. It is told from the perspective of Violet, our main character, as she reminices back on her teenage experience from 20 years in the future. Violet is now in her 30s looking back to 1998, when she was 16 and was trying to cope with the loss of her father and little sister, dealing with survivors guilt by isolating herself, before being placed at an elite all girls school, where she is determined to make friends and not feel like the outsider.
I enjoyed how unreliable Violets perspective was. Her disillusionment with the run down sea side town in which she grew up was fantastically atmospheric, you could feel the greyness of it all seeping into your imagination. It captured the feeling of being a British teen, stalking the streets, haunting the parks and huddling from the rain in school playgrounds all to be out of the house. It captured the sheer excitement of trying to act older than you are to attend parties in run down, dreary and often sticky flats with your friends. All of this with a voice that is both fond of the memories but also with the knowledge of how stupid teenage you was.
This also all made the ancient institution of the Academy make it stand out as almost magical and mysterious. It lends the element of darkness looming over violet and her group of friends, its historical links to witchcraft proving an inviting and potential escape from the girls troubles. All bolstered by the encouragement of their Art teacher, Annabel, whom teaches them to explore how women were exploited through out the history of art, and to stand strong as promising female artists themselves.
All of this allows the reader to explore Violets memories, the trails of teenage friendship, navigating the world at the edge of adulthood, feeling up against it all by yourself, and focusing all your energy on friendships that may not be healthy. It isn’t afraid to go dark, and violent, twisting and turning but also leaving enough doubt to have you questioning if the events really happened or if it was just Violet, imagining and misremembering events, to provide rational to herself for how she acted during those years. The calm tone of Violet, especially in moments of violence, made me question her sanity and the events as they unfolded. That made my spine tingle, questioning weather the witchcraft was real!
I enjoyed this book, while i wish it touched on some topics a bit more and I wish I got a bit more characterisation for some characters, the inclusion of the relationship with Annabel would have been nice to explore more. As it was told in such a way that we are only getting the unreliable memory of one participant of events, the lack of information about these elements was not fully a detriment to the book. At times the language could be a little flowery, some of the action scenes were confusing and required a re-read to full grasp what had happened and often relied on further elaboration in subsequent pages before I understood why these scenes had played out, but again that was a factor of the interesting narration. It was a creepy book, with parts I am sure most brits will relate to, all of which acted to make the violent and dark areas even more jarring, to me at least.
ENDING – 8
STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 8
CHARACTERS – 7
ATMOSPHERE AND WORLDBUILDING – 8
PLOT – 7
ENJOYMENT – 7
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