Monday, September 29, 2014

REVIEW: AMITY by Micol Ostow

Title: Amity
Author: Micol Ostow
Publisher: Egmont USA
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Genres: YA, Horror, Paranormal
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 3/5


When Connor's family moves to Amity, a secluded house on the peaceful banks of New England's Concord River, his nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons. destruction, and revenge. Dreams he kind of likes. Dreams he could make real, with Amity's help.

Ten years later, Gwen's family moves to Amity for a fresh start. Instead, she's haunted by lurid visions, disturbing voices, and questions about her own sanity. But with her history, who would ever believe her? And what could be done if they did?

Because Amity isn't just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a violent end as she's done before. As she'll do again. And again. And again.

Inspired by a true-crime story, Amity spans generations to weave an overlapping, interconnected tale of terror, insanity. danger, and death.


If you’ve seen any of the Amityville Horror movies, then get any expectations you have of this book out of your head right now. This is not a retelling. It’s an entirely different story about two very damaged teens.

I mentioned in one of my recent reviews that I’m a horror fanatic, and Amity is simply another YA attempt at horror that didn’t do anything for me. But, where some other YA horror books make use of cheap, slasher-movie techniques to entertain the reader, Amity offers a few imaginative disturbing events. The really terrific thing about Amity is that it is well-written, eerie, and an unbelievably quick read. I finished it in half a day.

Forget about character development or a plot with a twist. This book is void of that and I felt the story could’ve been fluffed out a lot more. What Amity lacks in the aforementioned, it makes up for with suspense and creepiness. I liked how the two main characters – even though they’re both damaged beyond repair and ended up with the same fate – each had their own distinct voice. The one is outright psychopathic, and the other fragile and possibly delusional. Surprisingly, the one character I liked the most at the start happens to be the one that got the least amount of attention – Gwen’s brother, Luke. I would’ve liked to see more about how the house affected him. One minute he’s a sweet, loving brother, and the next minute – boom! – he forms a love affair with an axe and starts sleeping in the smelly basement.

The rest of the characters were all just used as props. I wanted to know how the house affected Gwen’s parents - her father is barely mentioned – and how it affected Connor’s parents. It seems as though only the kids, and Gwen’s *psychically sensitive* aunt was traumatized by the Amity house.  I know that this is a YA novel, but can the adults be discarded so completely? The only adult theme herein is Connor’s mother and six-year-old brother being abused by his father. Are you seriously saying the house didn’t creep either set of parents out?

Another question I was left with at the end is what happened to the house in the ten years between these two families? If each family only lived in Amity for twenty-eight days, what happened in the ten years between? Did the house remain empty, or did other families live there? I guess I’ll never know.

All in all, Amity is not a terrible read. If you’re a horror fan, this book will not keep you awake at night, but it has a few chilling scenes that might give you the shivers.

*I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion. Thank you, Egmont USA!   

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Micol Ostow has been writing professionally since 2004, and in that time has written and/or ghostwritten over 40 published works for young readers. She started her reign of terror with Egmont with her novel FAMILY, which Elizabeth Burns named a favorite of 2012 on her School Library Journal-syndicated blog, A Chair, a Fireplace, a Tea Cozy. Micol's graphic novel, SO PUNK ROCK (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), was named a 2009 Booklist Top Ten Arts Books for Youth Selection, a Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth Selection, and a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens. She received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, alongside her Emmy Award-winning husband, their daughter, and a finicky French bulldog.

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