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The Fall by Bethany Griffin is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. However, this time around instead of being told from the perspective of a visitor from the outside, we get the story directly from Madeline, Roderick's sister. In the original story, we know practically nothing of Madeline aside from what little Roderick tells the unnamed narrator. The original Madeline does not have a voice at all. Here, though, Madeline is the narrator of her own life story growing up in the House of Usher. We find out that a good chunk of her life has hinged around her plan to escape the House and the Curse, to save herself and her brother. The real question is this: will she be able to hang on to her sanity long enough to destroy the House and end the Curse once and for all?
I've always enjoyed Poe (and the Vincent Price Poe movie adaptations!), so I was intrigued when I learned about The Fall by Bethany Griffin. Personally, I say that her YA reimagining of this classic is very well done, everything from the characterization of Madeline to the atmosphere and the sense of impending doom. The characters area all well developed, even the supporting cast. Madeline is a fantastic choice for a narrator as her position really allows the author to show off the malevolence of the House and the effects of the Curse on the Usher family. As I mentioned above, the atmosphere is very thick and you can really get a good sense of the madness, malevolence, and absolute horror when it comes to the House. This novel firmly falls into Gothic psychological thriller territory.
Madeline is also an excellent unreliable narrator which works well for this story and the way it is presented. Her story is told in short chapters that alternate back and forth to various scenes throughout her cursed life at different ages. This jumping back in forth in time between chapters is difficult to get used to at first, but once you get into the swing of the story it's easier to follow. The further along you go, the more you catch up to the present and the story really begins to follow the one solid timeline. This is actually one of the reasons I knocked off a star from my rating because it was so jarring to get used to, plus there are some pacing issues, especially coming right off of that opening chapter.
Overall, I enjoyed this reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's classic. Feel free to dive right in even if you aren't familiar with the source material. It is interesting to already have an idea of where the story is going, but it is not necessary to fully enjoy this thriller. I plan on reading Ms. Griffin's other Poe adaptations. I am looking forward to discovering what she has done with The Masque of the Red Death.
I read this novel from March 10 - 14, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.