Star Rating: 5/5, plus a Book Magic achievement badge
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Historical
Buy the book: Amazon
If you read my last review, the one for James Fahy's Crescent Moon, you know I was struggling with the dreaded book hangover. I wasn't sure where to turn to get my next fix - yes, I know how I sound. After reading this lovely interview between James Fahy and Becky Wright, however, I decided I should go ahead and open up The Manningtree Account by Becky Wright, which I've had sitting on my Kindle for a little while now.
After the fact, I realize my timing in reading this book might not be entirely fair. See, I was looking for something to distract me during a flight from Nashville to Virginia, which is not an easy task given my anxiety about flying and the fact that my mind annoyingly likes to wander to all the things that can go wrong during a flight and the potential aftermath. With confidence, however, I can tell you that this book rises above all panic-inducing distractions (with the exception of one very big flight-bump) and serves the greatest purpose a book can: magic.
The Manningtree Account is a creepy, atmospheric, dark thriller, a proper ghost story. I don't generally like films like Paranormal Activity, but I really, really liked this. This had so much depth and history with roots in real witch trials from the 17th century. I started it before I left for the airport yesterday, got a little more into it during the flight, and then, as we waited for permission to pull out out electronic devices again, I kept wanting to get back to the story. <--That's a point in favor of physical books, but that's a whole other argument.
Heather, our first person narrator for most of the story, has a fantastic voice. She's witty and down to earth and tough, just a few of my favorite traits in a character. The story is told from several points of view, however, and the transitions are handled perfectly. I was never left wondering where we were or who was speaking.
Likewise, the writing is beautiful, almost like poetry in some places. For example:
"Hadn't she known, as dusk stroked the earth with slithering fingers, that this may be the night they came?"
I absolutely love that! Meanwhile, in other places, it comes off like a really well done film, which is always an awesome feat in my mind. This is mostly in the way some scenes are described. I imagined the scene panning downwards after a particularly scary bit, cutting to other bits of the room to showcase various tableaus of devastation. And then there was one moment wherein, like when you're watching a scary movie, you start wanting to shout at the characters: "No! Don't do that! That's how people end up dead!"
Another thing I loved about the writing was the way we're not really outright told anything. Rather, everything is introduced via dialogue and action. I didn't know who our main character, Heather, was for a while, and I liked it that way. I think that helped to build the atmosphere of mystery. Again, perfect distraction for me as I picked up a clue here and context there as we crept along in the story - not that the pace creeps. The pace is perfect! The atmosphere creeps like a cold fog rolling across the ground. There's a feeling of something always being just behind your shoulder or around the next corner.
I was so into the book by the time our hour-long flight was almost over, I didn't hear the instructions to return my tray table to its proper, upright position. My older sister (whose name, coincidentally, is also Heather!) had to get my attention and repeat what the flight attendants had just said. And then I was thrilled when we were told that folks with connections needed to get off the plane first and so we should remain in our seats until after they had gone. More reading time for me! And then Heather (my Heather, not the book-Heather) started grousing at me because I had really taken the wait-for-other-passengers thing to heart and took my dear sweet time about putting the book away.
That's what I mean when I talk about magic! I'm usually trying to get off the plane as quickly as possible, but this book was such a comfort to me, which is a really odd thing to say given how thoroughly creepy it was. I'm sure some it would scare the pants off of some people, but I don't actually believe in ghosts, so that probably deadened (get it?) some of the fear I would have otherwise had for the story.
Finally, I don't want to give anything away, but something happened at the end that made my sister say to me, "What's wrong, Dae? Your eyes just got as big as saucers." Dun-dun-duuuuuuuun! If you want to know what this is about, you're just going to have to read it yourself.
I highly recommend this book. It's sooooooooo creepy and well written and chilling. Highly enjoyable! If you're easily freaked out or do believe in ghosts, though, maybe read it with the lights on or outside on a sunny day. Thanks for reading!