Book Review: The Bargaining by Carly Anne West
Publisher’s Book Description:
The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.
Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.
But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future….
There are lots of things I can say about The Bargaining, not all of them good, but I will say that this book genuinely terrified me in ways that no recent book has. I was reading it at night after my kids went to bed and I had to stop and wait until the next day to finish it. The scenes that go bump in the night made my flesh get bumpy and my hair stand on end. I was full of anxiety and curiosity, which is exactly what I want out of my haunted happenings. In terms of creep, The Bargaining definitely delivers.
The Bargaining is about many things, but one of those things is regret. We’ve all done things we regret and are forced to live with. In The Bargaining, many people have done things that they are having a difficult time living with. Penny’s regrets I think were very relatabeable, we can all eventually look back at some friendship gone wrong and pick it apart, particularly when it ends in the manner that Penny and Rae’s friendship ended. Some of the regrets of other people in the small town where the Carver House stand are shocking and deliciously creepy; you wouldn’t want to meet these people in real life but they make for good reading.
Sometimes the writing style was a little muddy and I had to go back and re-read a few paragraphs here or there to check to see if I had missed a transition or something. There are a few blanks that are left empty about what exactly happened in the wood outside the Carver House, but readers looking for a few good chills will be satisfied. This one is a real mixed bag for me, the pacing and transitions can be problematic, but man once the creep factor is totally engaged I thought it did a lot of things really successfully.
Carly Anne West is also the author of The Murmurings.
Published February 17, 2015 from Simon Pulse. ISBN: 9781442441828
I received a copy of this book in the mail in exchange for an honest review.
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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