***I received a free ARC from NetGalley and am voluntarily giving an honest review***
The Easton family has just moved into their new fixer-upper, a beautiful old house that they bought at a steal, and Alice, the youngest of the family, is excited to explore the strange, new place. Her excitement turns to growing dread as she discovers a picture hidden under the old wallpaper, a child’s drawing of a family just like hers.
Soon after, members of the family begin to disappear, each victim marked on the child’s drawing with a dark black X. It’s up to her to unlock the grim mystery of the house before she becomes the next victim.
FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
I loved this suspense novel. The opening line “I never wanted to come here” hooked me right away. The story was about 10 year old Alice moving into a new home with her parents and 15 year old brother Daniel. The prologue showed a snippet of Mary’s diary. Mary, the little girl who had lived there before them.
I thought the first chapter was pretty long. Maybe because I didn’t care about the family’s walkthrough of the new house with a creepy history. The story really picked up for me when Alice thought she saw someone staring at her through her bedroom window. I really liked that Alice and her dad had dark thoughts. It made them interesting as characters.
My favorite scene was when Alice found a black painted X across the picture of a dog on the wall. After that, all hell broke loose. Throughout the story, I kept trying to guess if ghosts were haunting the family or something more sinister. You’ll have to read to find out.
I couldn’t tell if the story was written in 3rd person POV or in omniscient because Alice was only 10 but seemed to have a big vocabulary—not when she talked, but when she was narrating the story. Plus, at times she would say her parents’ first names in narration, instead of just saying Mom and Dad.
I really enjoyed the conflict. The stress of the move had all family members on edge. The author did a good job with the mystery of who/what was actually messing with the family. The twist at the end was epic!
My favorite lines: 1) I think a lot about what a smile is, especially when you don’t mean it. It’s a mask. Something that hides the truth. 2) The family that was painted on the wall was covered up too. Buried. 3) Debra turned and managed a tired smile, the stress of the move, the cat, the snow all visible in her mother’s eyes.
I RECOMMEND this book to read.