I received a free copy of this book to review. However, the following review is my honest opinion.
After his parents separated, Jackson moves with his mom and brother to Atavus Falls, a seemingly calm and charming town. Everything seems fine, for a while. He and his brother have finally escaped the constant fighting of their parents and the fists of their hotheaded dad. Jackson even meets a girl. But when his girlfriend is killed before his very eyes, he realises the town may not be as calm as he likes.
Jackson realises the town is playing a quiet game. It was a cougar or a mountain lion that killed his girlfriend, of course. The adults are so very sure of it. The sheriff is so sure, Jackson isn’t even under suspicion for being at the scene of the crime. Everyone wants it to be a mountain lion. No, they need it to be. If Jackson reveals it was actually human, a human with the eyes of a beast, their calm and precious reality would shatter.
Moral of the story: don’t move to new towns. Scary things are likely to happen.
The Quills: 7/10
I always saw colors when I heard stuff. Music or trains or even when it’s quiet and you just hear air moving in a hallway. I can see air. It’s a blue glowing, a phosphorescent, I think, like underwater. Sometimes shapes, too. Shapes start to come out of the colors. These words, the ones coming from downstairs, were red and jagged pinpoints.
– Jack J. Carroll, Atavus Falls
Before I say anything, I have to admit this novel was a DNF. I didn’t finish reading it for a couple reasons which I’ll explain. But, because I didn’t finish reading it, my review should be taken with a grain of salt.
Atavus Falls is an adult horror novel told in first person from multiple points of view. This is the first reason I didn’t finish this novel. If it was told in first person from two or three different points of view, that would have been fine. I’ve enjoyed plenty of novels like that. But this novel is told in first person from half a billion points of view. I swear. I read about half of the book and there were at least 10 different narrators.
Maybe my brain just doesn’t move fast enough to keep up, but it was incredibly difficult to make sense of all the subplots. It didn’t help that the narrators were often unreliable. Some of them spoke in long streams of thought, some of them were coherent, and some of them made absolutely no sense whatsoever. I only made it as far as I did because the writing itself was great. It was energetic and exciting. I wanted to keep reading. That was the only reason I got halfway through this book.
Due to the first person narration, the characterization was great. I got a real sense of who the characters were because their voices were different.
There isn’t a really good sense of the world this novel is set in, partially because of all the character jumps. I only assume all the characters live in the same town, but it’s not stated. There’s little to no world-building. All I know is that the town is vaguely modern-day and has a bunch of woods around it.
The Roses: 1/10
I acknowledge the writing was good. It was energetic and interesting. The characters were complex. But I hated every single one of them (except the tiny kid, because you just can’t hate on tiny, optimistic kids) . They were all so contemptible, I hoped all of them would get killed. That’s not a good sign.
I also had a personal issue with this book: one of the characters kept throwing the word “nigger” around but called it “not racist” because the person he intended to insult is not black. If you don’t intend to be racist, there are a plethora of other insulting words to use which don’t have to be justified in this way. Maybe the author was trying to show how much of an idiot that character was, or maybe not. Either way, this made me uncomfortable personally because similar things have actually happened to me. People have spat out the words “dirty chink” then looked at me and said, “Oh, not you, because I’m not racist. I love Asians, they’re so useful.” The worst thing about being racist is when people don’t know they are. For this reason, I decided to drop the book and never pick it back up.
Conclusion: I don’t even know.
Edit: Wow, I just realised it’s December! Next week will be a Month in Review. Gosh, where did the time go?