REVIEW: Nightingale

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin TEEN for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

I have now read three out of four of Amy Lukavics’s books and I have to say that she is my absolute favourite horror author of all time.

First off, there is definitely not enough teen horror in the world, but Lukavics’s writing surpasses a recommended reading age. Every single one of her books is a different sub-genre of horror and yet never falls in line with tropes to the sub-genre of the work. Daughters Unto Devils was pure A24 arthaus horror aesthetic as well as one hell of a messed up ride in the times of settlers. The Women In The Walls was a gothic gore-fest and every time I thought I knew how it was going to end, the entire dynamic of the story shifted. Nightingale is no less genius.

The entire time I was reading Nightingale, my filmmaker brain wouldn’t shut up and I kept thinking that the best way to describe this book is if body horror master David Cronenberg decided to remake all of those black and white sci-fi classics from the 40s and 50s but with a badass lead who knows in her very bones that she is destined for far more than the life of a housewife.

Told in a non-linear fashion (which we all know, I’m a sucker for), the story follows June Hardie during her time in an asylum and her time at home. At home she is stifled by the gender roles of the time, and in the asylum she struggles with reality itself. Having made friends with other patients, June is truly forced to dig into her own mind and figure out what is happening.

I adored this story. It was dark, it was bloody, and it was trippy as hell. I have come to expect the unexpected from Amy Lukavics, but that still doesn’t make her hard hitting endings predictable in the least. As well as being a sci-fi/horror/retro story, she takes all of the problems with gender roles and beats the reader with them so there is no way anyone could possible think “But what’s wrong with staying home all day?” while also not necessarily looking down upon being a housewife. It’s a fine line to walk and this story did it wonderfully. The story does get graphic and there were some cases where it made me entirely uncomfortable but I wouldn’t call it excessive and it only adds to the atmosphere and the pure terror that this story conveys.

Nightingale is available in stores everywhere on September 25th, 2018.

37004950Author: Amy Lukavics
Published: September 25, 2018
Pages: 384
Publisher: Harlequinn TEEN
ISBN: 9781335012340

Synopsis: At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn’t be–independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner’s domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered–suburbia isn’t the only prison for different women.

REVIEW: The Women in the Walls

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.

28367592From 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
Pages: 278
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373211944

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.