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.
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.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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