This review is spoiler-free!
Horrid by Katrina Leno
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery
Release Date: September 15th 2020 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, 322 pages
Find it here: Goodreads || Book Depository
Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.
As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all–it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….
Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?
Yet another freaking gorgeous cover for a book. My version is from Owlcrate, though this time I’m not totally sure if I prefer the recolor or the original, because both are suitably creepy. I might like the red roses more, just because red over the eyes is a little more jarring at first glance.
Regardless, though, the artist of this one, Trần Nguyên, really hit home. I would love to have more books with their art on it.
Now, the story itself. I was totally ready to give this book a solid four or five stars, depending on how well the ending went, and kept that opinion literally until the very last line. Little did I know, I’d be landing on a three — almost a two, because I was so let down, actually — as my final rating.
This was my first Katrina Leno book. Maybe all of her books are like this, but I was not prepared for how the ending went. I’m sure plenty of people adore it, but I felt like I was kicked off a cliff and told, “That’s just how it be, don’t worry about the rest up here.” I wanted more, dammit! Leno’s writing style is amazing, and I was actually creeped out here and there while making my way through the book (a difficult task, because I don’t scare that easily from writing), but man.
That being said, this was such a good read for October. I’m thrilled I didn’t put it off after receiving it in an Owlcrate box, because it set the mood so well during a time when not much is really going great anywhere in the world and Halloween just doesn’t quite feel right. The story alternates well from creepy to mundane and back again, so you have breaks from what is a slow climb to horrid circumstances (winkwink). I was really invested in some of the characters!
A final thing I will say is that I guessed the twist pretty easily and relatively early on, due to misunderstanding something that was mentioned in the story. (Well, was it really a misunderstanding if I guessed the twist because of it? I was corrected on my misunderstanding a sentence after I had it, but… was it a misunderstanding in the first place? The true mystery here.)
So, yeah. Maybe not a book for all, definitely not a book for me in the end (though, for everything up to that last sentence, I was enthralled, so say what you will about that), but absolutely a book for someone more into the meat of it and not so concerned with an ending. And, maybe, you’ll even like the ending! Who knows. I’m a picky bitch.
Thanks for reading!