Monday, September 24, 2018

Review: The Agony House by Cherie Priest

Title: The Agony House
Written by: Cherie Priest and Tara O'Connor
Published: Septemebr 25, 2018 by Scholastic

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family's money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn't seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. 

But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it's clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here.Answers may lie in an old comic book Denise finds concealed in the attic: the lost, final project of a famous artist who disappeared in the 1950s. 

Denise isn't budging from her new home, so she must unravel the mystery-on the pages and off-if she and her family are to survive...

This book was amazing! Everything I wanted it to be and more. I loved I Am Princess X and I was really excited to hear that she had a new book coming out in a similar format. I saw copies available at ALA and I picked it up without even reading the synopsis. Then I read the synopsis and was even more excited.

It was incredibly apropos that I received a copy of this book at ALA in New Orleans because this is a book set in New Orleans, which is just one great thing about it. And the mystery and history of New Orleans definitely comes alive in The Agony House. It’s a city full of stories of ghosts and haunted houses. That seems to be the basis for this story and I really loved that. I love books that are set in mysterious old houses because I always wonder what happened in a place years ago. And seriously, this House was so creepy and fascinating. I'm not a huge fan of horror and I don't like being scared and this book had the perfect amount of creepy and mysterious that had me curious and freaked out in the best possible way. It definitely had this great horror movie vibe. It was compelling and cinematic made all the more interesting with the comics that were dispersed throughout.

But the house was only the start when it came to establishing the setting of this book. It takes place in the present day so the book has to deal with Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. I really liked why Cherie Priest did with this aspect of the story. She didn’t shy away from talking about some of the terrible things that happened to the city of New Orleans and the people who lived there. She also really addressed the idea of gentrification and people coming into a blighted neighborhood and wanting to make it better at the expense of the people who had been there for generations. It’s such an interesting concept and I loved that she talked about it here. It gave the book a lot of depth and also grounded it in reality.

And that reality was shown in sharp contrast to the amazing supernatural elements in this book. I’m not a big fan of horror but I like a creepy book that makes me look over my shoulder and question things about old houses which is exactly what this book did. The ghost elements were really well done and had me really thinking that this house could certainly be a stop on a New Orleans ghost tour if it existed. And the ghost tour I went on was one of the highlights of my trip so that made me incredibly happy.

The other thing about this book that made me very happy was the mystery. I really loved the way it all unfolded. Like I Am Princess X this one had a comic that was dispersed throughout the story which gave clues that lead to the big reveal at the end (and in this case also showed what run ins with the resident ghost would be like). But unlike Princess X, I felt like this mystery was a little less obvious. It still was solvable and there were hints but it felt like a more mysterious and complex narrative which I appreciated. It was also an incredibly addicting read. It’s a short book and therefore it’a not too surprising that I finished it in two days but I also could not put it down. I keep telling myself “just one more chapter” and before I knew it I had read another forty pages. It had that much of my attention.

All in all, this was an amazing read. It is the perfect combination of supernatural thriller and historical mystery plus there is the comic thrown in for even more amazingness.

I give The Agony House by Cherie Priest 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I really loved and definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fast and compelling Halloween read. If you liked I Am Princess X then definitely get this one, or even if you didn't read it and we want a creepy and fast read for fall get it.

Have you read The Agony House? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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