Sunday, April 3, 2022

Review: Beneath the Stairs by Jennifer Fawcett

by Jennifer Fawcett
Release Date: February 22, 2022
2022 Atria Books
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1982177157
Audiobook: B09MDM3GT9
Genre: Fiction / Horror
Source: Review copy from publishr
2 / 5
Few in sleepy Sumner’s Mills have stumbled across the Octagon House hidden deep in the woods. Even fewer are brave enough to trespass. A man had killed his wife and two young daughters there, a shocking, gruesome crime that the sleepy upstate New York town tried to bury. One summer night, an emboldened fourteen-year-old Clare and her best friend, Abby, ventured into the Octagon House. Clare came out, but a piece of Abby never did.

Twenty years later, an adult Clare receives word that Abby has attempted suicide at the Octagon House and now lies in a coma. With little to lose and still grieving after a personal tragedy, Clare returns to her roots to uncover the darkness responsible for Abby’s accident.
My Thoughts
Beneath the Stairs definitely had an interesting concept and I am certainly drawn to things that go bump in the dark.  Horror books are my guilty pleasure, and while I don't tend to review many of them, I do read a lot of them.  Unfortunately, this one started pretty slowly, and although not usually a problem, never really picked up and I had to push myself to finish it.   

I am never opposed to dual timelines in a book as they can be very effective and create a lot of suspense when they are done well.  Unfortunately, I felt like the time lines in this book affected the suspense, and some of them didn't really add any value to the story as it was more about teenage angst and love than it was about building up good suspense. Does anyone want to read about these kinds of things in a horror novel? Unless unrequited love has to do with the actual story, goodbye. 
There was something creepy under the stairs and in the basement that was creating all of these issues with people, but at no time did I feel tension or that spine-tingling sense of danger as I was reading.  The plot was repetitive in the sense that what happened to the girls was told over and over again, yet there was never an explanation for what happened or why, just consequences.  Yes, I can read between the lines as well as anyone, but you have to have some meat to be able to do so and that 'meat' to the story was lacking behind Clare's musings over Mitchell and her failed friendship with Abby.  Frankly, this was a story about a basement whose door would only open for certain people, and when they went down the stairs they would see a creepy doll.  Pretty cliche, if you ask me.  

Beneath the Stairs had a lot of potential, but fell into the category of being simply a mystery without a thrill or a twist. Unfortunately, the characters were one-dimensional and lacked depth and the plot just limped along without any real focus or twist.  Personally, I just felt like it was about a haunted house that creeped out some kids for no apparent reason that I could ever divine as the explanations were weak or missing. However, as I mentioned, there is potential in this author's writing so I would love to try something again by her in the future. I really wished I had liked this one more.



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