October 31st – November 8th
I’ve heard about this book a lot. I’ve heard it described as a female Lord of the Flies, but spookier and weird. I guess if you aren’t super familiar with a more speculative horror genre, and you’re in the YA demographic that this book is aimed at, that’s a fair comparison. To me, a more apt comparison is Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, a book which I was not a huge fan of.
This book was different enough from that in ways that I liked, but also still had the atmosphere and descriptions which were my favorite part of Annihilation. I think Rory Power did a great job bringing a different type of horror genre to a young adult audience, and I hope that this introduces a lot of YA readers to horror books as something they can continue to enjoy.
This book takes place on Raxter, an island off the coast of Maine and home to an all girls boarding school by the same name. The island has always been slightly strange, with blue crabs and flowers that turn black after being picked. Now, there’s the Tox, a sickness which changes the girls and makes them wild. Hetty has her eye sealed shut and blooms over it. Byatt has a second spine. Reese has a hand with silver scales.
There are others, girls with two hearts, silver hair that glows, each one unique and slightly stranger than the last. The island is twisted too, with trees that grow too fast, and animals that are far more feral than they used to be.
This book reads almost as a slice of life into the strange world that these girls live in. It takes place a year and a half after the Tox began, as their numbers continue to dwindle and a cure seems less and less likely. Secrets are uncovered and things begin to change again. This book is about friendship and more than friendship. It’s about relationships with parents, and closing people out, and letting people in. It’s a slow burn, a slow story, and a slow progression.
I liked this book a lot. It was weird, and cool, and ominous, and gory. It’s a book that I would recommend to people who like horror and not having all the answers to all the questions, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
Rory Power has another book coming out next year, and if it’s anything like this I think I’ll really enjoy it.