Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin

The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Source: eARC via Edelweiss | Greenwillow
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star 1/2
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Published: October 7th, 2014

Madeline Usher is doomed.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own.
  Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother.   In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Fall is a retelling of Edgar Allen Poe's Fall of the House of Usher.
When I saw Bethany Griffin had a new release, I was intrigued. Then I saw it was another Poe retelling, based on the famous Fall of the House of Usher and I was shrieking and jumping up and down in my seat. :e I was overexcited to read this novel..because I just know Griffin can do a mean Poe retelling in YA format. She doesn’t try to lighten up Poe’s dark and moody work. She makes it work, and boy if she didn’t succeed once again in meeting my expectations.

Since I am obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe, I have read all his works. The Fall of the House of Usher is a very good short story. I have long since wanted to read a full novel exploring it from Madeline’s perspective. When I think of the story though, I don’t think of only the text. I also think of the movie starring Vincent Price made in the 1964. I grew up watching all of his movies and his Poe movies were my favorite. The Tomb of Ligeia, Fall of the House of Usher, and The Raven were my favorites. So as I started reading The Fall, I imagined the characters as they appeared in the Vincent Price movie, only a bit younger. I imagined the house as it was in the movie, and all the creepy portraits and coffins/vault and cobwebs quickly filled my imagination.

Thus, as I attempt to review this book I find I cannot review it without sharing some of the images that came to mind while reading Griffin’s gorgeous retelling.  

As in the original, the house is the main attraction. It's a living, sentient being who has manipulated controlled, and protected the Usher line for centuries.

Creepy, huh? The book certainly paints it as such. From the beginning its evident the house has something beyond most haunted houses. Even the Usher family seems to be haunted. Although these are both things one would know having read the original, you don't need to have read the original prior to reading this to understand it. Although I would highly suggest you read the original story before or after you read this, or even if you don't read it. ;)

"'Roderick, it's only a storm,' I whisper. His eyes accuse me of lying. This is not just a house. We have never simply been children. We are Ushers." -Loc 230 

It starts in the vault, with Madeline in a coffin.

One thing about this book is that it jumps through time. In the beginning we see Madline in a coffin, buried alive by her brother Roderick (unknowingly). This is in the first chapter, and the blurb so I don't think it counts as a spoiler ;) 

We right away discover Madeline has been buried alive

But before we can even find out why or HOW this crazy scary horrific thing comes to pass, we are taken back to when Madeline is a young girl. The chapters are labeled with the age Madeline is, thus taking us through the story of how she came to be in the vault stuck in a coffin, buried alive. Although for the most part this way of narration worked, sometimes it got a bit choppy. Note the 4.5 out of 5 stars, this half star that I took off was only due to the choppiness of some of the chapters in the timeline. She goes from 9 to 17, back to 9 then to 16, it varies. For the most part I could keep up. It was an effective way overall, because it kind of was fun to fill in the blanks as you read along and try to piece together the mystery. 

Isabel. Madeleine's new friend, but can she be trusted? 
After all, did she really come all this way just to be a governess!
Other characters do come into play. In the start it's just Madeline, her brother Roderick (she's the brave one) and her mother and father. Her mother is crazy. She has a ton of disdain for the poor girl, and her father is loopy because of the family illness/curse. There is a team of doctors who live in the house at all times. There's always someone sick, since whoever dies of the illness it passes to the next "favorite" of the house. Much to the Doctors' confusion, I might add. We even get a cute young doctor (hello love interest?) named Dr. Winston.

Madeline and her best friend: dog Cassandra.
I also really loved Cassandra. She's a huge dog, like a wolf. She's Madeline's best friend, and I really loved her. I was def most happy and most sad at the parts she was involved in. :O 

You'd go crazy too if you spent all day in a creepy house with dark portraits lining the walls.

The Fall was a haunted, dark, and fantastic book. It was the best horror book I've read all year. I really hope we continue to see Poe retellings from Bethany Griffin. She's proven (three times now) that she knows how to do Poe in a way that's stylistically true to the original master of horror literature. This is a title I will be purchasing for my bookshelf, and it's also one I plan on rereading anytime I feel like an atmospheric tale on a dreary day. I have to recommend this book to fans of gothic literature, Edgar Allen Poe, haunted stories with troubled heroines and those who don't mind getting a bit scared. 

*Please excuse some of the gifs are from other Poe movies, and all were found on

author image


(aka Dee) has loved reading for as long as she can remember. She loves many things: fantasy novels, young adult fiction, her cat, painting, and horror films from the 70s. Diamond is a grad student at UCLA. She's pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science.


  1. Believe it or not, I've never read a work of Poe's. Shocking right? He never caught my eye and the schooling system over here doesn't place any emphasis on him at all. But I did look up House of Usher the other day and loved the premise immediately. I definitely have to find some time for it! I'm so jealous of this horror book because I desperately want to read some for halloween but have no time D; Fantastic review, love! x

    1. Jess, I must insist you read some Poe! He's literally one of my top favorite authors, of alol time. I just love him <3 and his dark heart lol. I hope u find some time after your studies to read him and or this book bc it's fabulous! ^_^

  2. I absolutely must read this... A nice Poe retelling would be great this time of year.

    1. Yes! You MUST Lacey! Lol :P it's perfect for this time of year!

  3. Ooohh, how deliciously creepy! I'm a huge chicken when it comes to horror books but POE! Oh, Poe! And a retelling to boot! Definitely going to keep my eyes out for this one. :D

    1. Oh I know isn't he the best?! ;) hehe I love creepy books especially this time of year.. Thanks Ana!

  4. I'm so excited for this one, great review! I'm always up for a creepy read, especially around Halloween!!
    -Jon from Bookish Antics!

  5. I am sold. I am so reading this when I get the chance! Although it does sound creepy, I can sense the tangle of relationships that go throughout the pages. I'm curious to know more about Madeline and Roderick. Thanks for the great review!
    View this site for Indianapolis Web Design


please leave a comment! I would love to engage with you. Thank you for reading and commenting!