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Book Review: Amity by Micol Ostow

At my previous library, we had a patron who would check out the Amityville Horror book over and over again. I am sure this book was written for him, and for all horror fans.

Publisher’s Book Description:

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.

Karen’s Thoughts:

Amity begins with a letter. In this letter, a young man, Connor is writing about a new family that has just moved in and quickly moved out of Amity. 

We then begin our story. It is told in alternating chapters from then, which is 10 years ago, and now. In between there are a few other interjections, such as reports from counselors.

Each timeline focuses on the inhabitants of Amity, a house that seems to be alive and have a will of its own. This has house windows that look like eyes. It doesn’t seem to want to be altered in any way so the walls are impenetrable, you can’t even push a nail into them to hang up a picture. And it seems to want to claim its residents as its own. In fact, both MCs notice how once they arrive, they almost never seem to leave, not even to go into town and look around. Of course, when they do, they get the side eye from town residents because they know the story of Amity.

“She was shot in the head!”

Like any good haunted house story, Amity begins slowly with those subtle hints that something might be wrong. Those glimpses outside a window where you think you see something. A faucet that drips blood. An infestation of bees.

Then the momentum builds. Desperation creeps up. And then all hell breaks loose.

At the end of the day what readers want to know is simple: Is it scary? And the answer is yes. It kept me on the edge of my seat as the tension built and I read impatiently to read what would happen next. It took me a few minutes to get used to the alternating rhythm of the story and figure out who was who, but as it built momentum and you fall into its groove it delivers.

Amidst all of the scary house happenings, this is also the story of two different families facing very real problems. Connor’s family in particular is very interesting. It is clear very early on that the father is abusive, which we begin to realize as the family tries to navigate through this ordeal while also navigating this father prone to violence. In many ways, this horror rivaled that of the house. The inhabitants of the house, and the complex family relationships that they try to navigate, are almost as horrific as the house itself. And in each story, there is a strong brother/sister relationship that is then put to the test as the house draws them in and tempts them to the dark side. It is what happens in these relationships that haunts more than the house itself because the strong siblings are forced to realize truths about who they are and watch as their families begin to change and then the thin string that holds them together is unwound. And as a reader you are left with this haunting truth: things change, families fall apart, and we are not always what we seem.

The house is not the only thing hiding scary truths.

Recommended. Amity releases in August from EgmontUSA. ISBN: 978-1-60684-156-3.

Take 5: New Titles Coming from EgmontUSA

Get Happy by Mary Amato

Publisher’s Description: In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukelele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises

Karen’s Thoughts: I simply love and adore Guitar Notes so I am very much looking forward to reading this. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a title that mentions Sarah Dessen and understands how glorious she is.

Publishes October 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-522-6

BZRK Apocalypse by Michael Grant

Brief Synopsis: A war is raging at the nano level as a group headed by evil geniuses tries to get control of nanotechnology and politics to create a world that fits their idea of utopia. Teens are being enlisted for their gaming ability to control the nanotechnology but now they have to figure out what side is the good side, or at least the less bad side, and see if they can stop the war before madness sets in.

Karen’s Thoughts:  This is a really good, thrilling series that reminds me a lot of Michael Crichton. I’m looking forward to reading the conclusion.

Publishes May 8, 2014. ISBN: 9781405263467

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Publisher’s Description: The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

Karen’s Thoughts: You just read the part where it said “The Bourne Identity meets Divergent” right? Yeah, sign me up for that. Also, I’m all in for a female Bourne.

Publishes September 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-518-9

Amity by Micol Ostow

Publisher’s Description: For fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, a gruesome thriller suggested by the events of the Amityville Horror.

Inspired by a true-crime story of supernatural happenings and gory murders, Amity spans two generations and beyond to weave an overlapping, interconnected tale of terror, insanity, danger, and death.

Karen’s Thoughts: The cover, the subject matter – teens (and me) are always looking for more horror and this coming out in the fall sounds like a no brainer. Plus, they recently announced they would be making another Amityville movie starring Disney star Bella Thorne. Should have some high interest.

Publishes August 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-156-3

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Publisher’s Description: A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father’s home in 1820’s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father’s assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they’re letting on.

Karen’s Thoughts: Look, I used my high school graduation money to buy the complete works of Poe, so I’m all over this. Here’s a look at some more YA lit inspired by Poe  

Publishes September 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-463-2 

Edited on 4/02/2014 because I had the UK version of the BZRK Apocalypse book up. The one you see now is the U.S. version.