by Micol Ostow
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For fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, a gruesome thriller suggested by the events of the Amityville Horror.Connor's family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen's family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she's recovered from a psychotic break. But something is not right about this secluded house. Connor's nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons and destruction. Dreams he kind of likes. Gwen has lurid visions of corpses that aren't there and bleeding blisters that disappear in the blink of an eye. She knows Amity is evil and she must get her family out, but who would ever believe her? Amity isn't just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she's done before. As she'll do again. Alternating between parallel narratives, Amity is a tense and terrifying tale suggested by true-crime events that will satisfy even the most demanding horror fan.
While the tagline boldly states for fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, I am not entirely sure that it did Amity any favors. Amity by Micol Ostow is not a retelling of the original Amity house, but rather a book inspired by the events that occurred there. While the tale is atmospheric and has creepy moments, it does not have that smooth, eerie, descriptive vibe that is notoriously King. Amity is a young adult horror that explores the psyche of two characters, and its intended audience will enjoy the atmospheric, suspenseful tale.
Amity delves into two different families arriving at and living at Amity. One occurs ten years ago and another in the present. There is Gwen’s family who has just moved into the present day Amity, then Conner, and his twin sister Jules, who lived there in the past. All of the characters are creepy, no downright weird would be more appropriate. Even their parents will make you shiver. Gwen suffered a mental breakdown prior to the move, and the author explains what occurred later in the novel, leaving us to guess for most of it. Conner, on the other hand, is disturbing and the more the author shows -well let us just say it made me shiver and leave it at that.
Amity takes us back and forth between the two families and the creepy events that unfold during their stay. As the tale progresses the two stories intertwine leaving the reader, scrambling to sort out what is real. The tale has some horror scenes that will remind you of the Amityville Horror movie, but these are tamer and toned down. Amity is itself a living breathing entity with a personality all of its own and I must give credit to Ostow in this regard.
As much as I enjoyed the creepy moments and suspenseful vibe, the tale had flaws that kept me from completely losing myself within its pages. I loved how Ostow weaved in historical facts and the multiple perspectives but at times, it did not move fluidly. Some moments felt rushed while others were over the top. The author does an excellent job of keeping the reader off balance through her characters and the house itself. I questioned the magical aspect of Gwen and wonder if it did not hurt the story. The characters are strange, and the author makes you look at them askew. They are not likeable, and I do not believe we were supposed to connect to them in any real way but it created a disconnect. Despite some predictable moments and lag in areas overall, I enjoyed this atmospheric tale and applaud the author’s approach.
Young adults looking for a creepy, hair-raising horror will find Amity weird, horrifying and twisted.