Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.
When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
When I heard about The Women in the Walls, I was very excited to see if it was one that would freak me out as much as other horror novels I’d read had. As a fan of everything scary, I was pleased to find that it was even more frightening than I’d expected — it sent shivers down my spine and made me flinch every time I heard something besides the sound of turning pages. While I found most of the characters dull and bland and some aspects a little problematic, it was still an entertaining read that was slightly redeemed by how delightfully creepy it was.
The thing I disliked most about this novel was the way mental illness was discussed and written about. The main character, Lucy, struggles with self-harm, but I felt as though that element of the novel was highlighted as a ‘defining characteristic’ for her and the way it wrote about her self-mutilating could be quite triggering for some. Additionally, we’re told that Lucy suffers from depression as a result of the recent deaths, but we as readers never get to feel that from her. In that way, her emotions never quite reached us and therefore a significant proportion of the novel was told rather than shown. The suicide and grief aspects of The Women in the Walls was also brushed over really quickly and felt like last-minute additions instead of issues that could have been further developed to make this book one that is reflective of one’s actual struggle with mental illness instead of a nauseating, one-dimensional view at mental health by an author that feels to be unacquainted with mental illness themselves.
The other characters that The Women in the Walls introduces are quite bland and I didn’t connect with any of them. Frankly, Lucy’s father is the worst example of a parental figure I’ve ever read about. He disregards his daughter’s mental health even after they lost someone close to them and doesn’t seem to care if she lived or died. Put a big strikethrough ‘present parents’.
Present parents. Next we had Lucy’s cousin, who’s said to have been Lucy’s best friend since they were little and to have had a great family relationship, but did we see that anywhere? Friendship. And lastly, all the characters were dull and uninteresting, with nothing that sets them apart from all the other Mary Sues I’ve read about. Interesting characters. If you prefer plot-driven novels to ones with rich and vibrant characters, then maybe The Women in the Walls might appeal to you.
I was also very disappointed by the ending. I was expecting a fully resolved conclusion, but what I received was quite the opposite. The only reason I felt as though I continued reading this novel was to find out how everything would finally wrap up, and when I realised no ‘t’s were crossed or ‘i’s were dotted, I felt robbed of my two hours I’d spent reading The Women in the Walls. Admittedly, some scenes were quite enjoyable as I’m a fan of horror and this book definitely sent shivers down my spine, but I just would have loved more of an ending. I was very unsatisfied and kept expecting some sort of epilogue or something. Alas, there was nothing.
The best thing about The Women in the Walls was definitely the creep-factor. If you’re looking for a frightening horror book and nothing else, perhaps this one is the one for you. It made my heart race and my spine tingle even as I read it in a packed library in broad daylight — and I love horror, so that’s saying something. But this novel isn’t for the faint-hearted. There’s talk of swallowing teeth and bones and whispers coming from walls, so if you get freaked out easily, consider yourself warned!
Ultimately, The Women in the Walls lacked the vibrant characters and ability to make the readers empathise with the people and events in the story, but what partly redeems it is its ability to send shivers down your spine and thoroughly freak you out! If you don’t mind some bland characters and are a fan of horror novels, then perhaps you should try The Women in the Walls!
Have you heard of The Women in the Walls? Are you a fan of horror or thrilling novels? Does this sound like the type of book you’d be interested in reading? Do you prefer reading plot-driven or character-driven novels? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!