After hearing voices among an eerie copse of trees in the woods, seventeen-year-old Curtis must confront his worst fear: that he has inherited his father’s mental illness. A desperate search for answers leads him to discover Gravenhearst, a labyrinth mansion that burned down in 1894. When he locks eyes with a steely Victorian girl in a forgotten mirror, he’s sure she’s one of the fire’s victims. If he can unravel the mystery, he can save his sanity . . . and possibly the girl who haunts his dreams.
But more than 100 years in the past, the girl in the mirror is fighting her own battles. When her mother disappears and her sinister stepfather reveals his true intentions, Mila and her sister fight to escape Gravenhearst and unravel the house’s secrets—before it devours them both.
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017
Imprint: Amulet Books
Publisher: ABRAMS Kids
Age Group: Teen & YA
Received From: Netgalley in exchange for honest feedback
My Rating: 4/5
I feel the need to give a couple of trigger warnings here for suicidal thoughts and fire.
With that out of the way, I thought this was a solid haunted/possessed house story that is perfect for your upcoming Fall/Halloween reading!
Mila and Curtis are separated by time, but have many things in common. They both have younger sisters that mean the world to them. They both have unreliable parents for various reasons that leave them feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders and having to take on a much more adult role than they should have to. They are both trapped by Gravenhearst, a house with an evil past that has a life of it's own.
I am fascinated by sprawling mansions with hidden pathways and rooms that seem to have their own personality, that seem to watch you and be alive. There is just something about an old house that makes it seem like an entity unto itself, whether thought to be haunted or not, they just have more personality that most of the structures we build today. Maybe that's just a function of time and changes in trend, or maybe it's that the house takes on some characteristics of it's previous owners that make it feel like more than a building. Gravenhearst is certainly a great example of the latter, and had been infused with evil intent by the family that lived there. Like a spider at the center of it's web, the house still exerted it's influence on the town and Curtis, even years later, and destroyed to it's foundations.
Curtis believes he's going crazy, like his father. Mila is fighting for her and her sister's lives. A magical mirror lets them find each other, and recognize a kindred spirit. Helping each other and escaping the grasp of the house is harder. Both have so much working against them it seems that there is no possible way out. Curtis doesn't know who he can trust. Mila knows she can trust no one. It seems like everything goes wrong for them.
This was an exciting and exhausting, escape the house, time traversal story that will keep you on the edge of your seat while hoping for Mila and Curtis to get a happy ending!
As a side note, for those interested in older houses, here are a few I have visited that may help you imagine the scene! ;)
The Piatt Castles in Logan County, Ohio