August 26, 2014
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For fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, a gruesome thriller suggested by the events of the Amityville Horror.
Connor's family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen's family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she's recovered from a psychotic break.
But something is not right about this secluded house. Connor's nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons and destruction. Dreams he kind of likes. Gwen has lurid visions of corpses that aren't there and bleeding blisters that disappear in the blink of an eye. She knows Amity is evil and she must get her family out, but who would ever believe her?
Amity isn't just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she's done before. As she'll do again.
Alternating between parallel narratives, Amity is a tense and terrifying tale suggested by true-crime events that will satisfy even the most demanding horror fan.
When it comes Amity, well, I don't really know. Amity - and Amity - is almost the Amityville Horror house, but it isn't. Located in Concord, Massachusetts, Amity is a house that's been around for several centuries. Located away from town and any neighbors, on the river, it's a house well known among the neighbors.
Separated by a decade first Connor's and then Gwen's families move into Amity. Each looking for a fresh start and to leave the past behind them. As soon as they move in, each beings experiencing things: from horrible smells to bad dreams to things that can't possibly be real, it lets them know something is not right with Amity.
Sounds like a great start to a horror story, no? Except with Connor and Gwen as our two, alternating, narrators, things get . . . weird. When the narrators of your horror story are a psychopath and a schizophrenic things don't work normally.
Connor and Gwen's personalities keep you from connecting with them. The
bits of thought, consciousness added in (with this type of spacing) tend to pull you out of the story a bit.
Having two unreliable likely not sane narrators you not only can't trust them, you also cannot trust what's happening, either. Things are creepy inside Amity, but more because the characters themselves are more than just that little bit off. I actually liked having these two characters, with their - at best - questionable pasts and then throwing them into somewhere that was affecting them whether it was as an outside force or the combination of their mental state and the suggestion.
(some spoilers below)
I liked Gwen's story and enjoyed questioning what was 'in her head' and what was the influence of Amity. When things began to shift more towards her brother, with Gwen being the observer, it was disappointing. Paired with the ending, Connor's especially, it left too many questions, not enough answers, and characters I wasn't quite connected enough with to have any insight.
(end some spoilers)
Amity's ending was abrupt with not quite enough beyond what we'd already been told (or given strong hints) would happen. With so much piled onto the history of Amity, the pasts of the characters and their lives in Amity, it seemed it may have just been a perfect storm; these troubled characters moving into a troubled house. Yet it was too unclear whether the house's dark past impacted them or if their own dark pasts were more too blame.
I really think that if certain parts of the book had been expanded or the characters easier to have some kind of connection with (they needn't be sane, stable, 'normal' people, just something more to connect with) Amity would have worked for me. It is a really interesting premise and I love the idea, the execution just didn't quite work for me.
[Mouseover for spoilery questions I have]
digital copy provided by publisher through NetGalley for review