Review originally written for Unnerving Magazine.
The Women in the Walls is the second novel from Amy Lukavics, published through Harlequin Teen. The story is a first person narrative from the perspective of a young woman, Lucy Acosta, as she recounts several horrific tragedies that have happened in rapid succession upon the vast grounds of her family’s estate.
From the synopsis alone, I purchased a copy of the book, hoping for a ghost-filled good time that lasted a few hundred pages. What I ended up with was a 278-page novel full of twists and turns so terrifying that they were set to keep me up at night. Every time I thought I knew where the story was going, Lukavics took it in the exact opposite direction, torturing poor Lucy in ways I did not think I would see in a teen novel, let alone one published by a company primarily known for its romantic fiction.
Ghosts in the walls, grotesque suicides, even bloodier murders, this book has it all and far, far more. Lukavics manages to combine all of the classics when it comes to psychological tension throughout her story. Being written in the first person narrative gives the reader less of an idea of what is really going on, as we only know what Lucy knows, we only see what she sees. Her paranoia as the story progresses becomes our paranoia and Lukavics masters getting entirely inside the reader’s head and twisting reality as Lucy falls deeper and deeper into a dark, and possibly magical, conspiracy that is haunting, and poisoning, her family and her reputation in the upper class society she lives in.
While reading, several titles popped into my brain that are reminiscent of The Women in the Walls. The first-person paranoia is just as chilling – if not more so – The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein (or directed by Mary Harron if you want the film). The conspiracy and trauma is spot on with Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak. The general aesthetic of the novel on par with Stoker from director Park Chan-Wook. If any of these titles are in your favourites, pick up this novel and I promise you will not put it down until you have finished it.
Author: Amy Lukavics
Published: September 27th 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Synopsis: 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.