Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.
Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.
Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go.
Thank you to Netgalley and MacMillan for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.
Thoughts and Themes: My first note on this book was WEREWOLVES! I love these creatures and interestingly so they are one of the few things that actually terrify me. My most favorite things are things that terrify me and on this list are 3 things. Werewolves have not only terrified me my whole life but I have always been fascinated with them and the different stories that have been told about them through the years. What I really enjoyed about this story was that it wasn’t just about werewolves but also included other creatures.
I really enjoyed the way that this book mixed together elements of fantasy as well as horror. This book gives a vibe that was similar to The Haunting of Hill House which I really enjoyed but this book has a lot more fantastical elements which drew me in more. I liked learning about the family and what types of creatures they were. I liked learning about these creatures and how they came to be, or why they came to be. I think that the most fascinating creature in this story is Eleanor and I want more of this book just to see what she becomes.
I liked the mysterious aspect of this whole story, there was mystery about what Eleanor really was, the story behind Arthur, and what does Persephone know that the rest of her family doesn’t. I liked reading as these mysteries unfolded and liked how they had Persephone be the one to really tell her story. I don’t want to spoil the story so it’s hard to talk about this book as the best parts are in the spoilers.
There is one thing that I just wasn’t happy with and was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t entirely addressed. I don’t know if this was because of the time period this was supposed to feel like or because it added to the story but from Eleanor and the Grandma there is slight homophobia. We get a sense of why Eleanor is reacting this way and what she has been taught at her boarding school but it seems to be dismissed. The feelings that Rhys has seem to be dismissed as feelings each of the members of the family have and it is slightly explained later on.
Characters: There are so many characters in this story that I thought it would get confusing at first to remember them all. While Rhys, Miklos, and Luma are all werewolves, they all have distinct characteristics that tell them apart. My favorite out of those three is Rhys because his character reads like a child who doesn’t know any better. I like his playful personality and enjoy watching him pine after Arthur.
I enjoyed getting to know Eleanor throughout this whole book and see her relationships with the others develop. I thought it was great to watch her relationships with the others shift as she learned more about them. I thought it was good to see those relationships change not just as she learned about them but also dependent on who she was getting that information from.
Now the villain of the story, I really enjoyed this character because of what she is and how she snuck her way into the family. I can’t say much about the villain because it ruins the story for you all but she is sneaky and fascinating. You wind up disliking her because of what she does to the others but as a character she was great to read about.
Writing Style: This story is told in first person through the perspective of our main character, Eleanor. There is so much about the writing that I enjoy, this is probably the best part about this book. I liked how this story gives you glimpses of the past and the way that this is done is interesting as well. I like that we shift towards the end of this story and we are reading this through a different perspective. I thought it was great to see things in multiple viewpoints to really understand everyone’s actions.