DNF Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Nothing Remotely Impressive)

Posted September 22, 2015 by Sophia

DNF Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Nothing Remotely Impressive)The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Published by Greenwillow Books on October 7, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Retellings
Format: Physical
Source: Library

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

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. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

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.

*puts on best announcer voice* Ahem.

I’d like to present to you the most confusing book of the year, The Fall by Bethany Griffin. It’s a very odd and peculiar book based on Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, The Fall of the House of Usher. In Griffin’s retelling, Madeline Usher believes that she can break the curse on the Ushers, but then she wakes up in a fabulously claustrophobic box called a coffin.

In all seriousness, The Fall is actually a retelling on one of Poe’s stories that I didn’t actually read, but watched instead (so bad, it was good). From reading the synopsis of Griffin’s retelling, it sounded like Madeline Usher had spent most of her life trying to break free from the curse.

I ended up with something different. At least, that’s what I would probably end up with if I actually made it to the end of the book, which I chose not to. I totally admit I peeked at the last few pages just to see what would happen, and it was nothing special.

Griffin starts us out right when Madeline wakes up in a coffin. The rest of the book, however, is all flashback from Madeline’s childhood, starting from when she was nine. It’s a little out of order, but has a pattern to it in a way – one chapter is nine, the next is fifteen, and occasionally there’s a diary/journal entry from Lisbeth Usher. I’m no fan of chapters being even remotely out of order (they can get confusing when you’re busy and come back to the story a few days later), but at least Griffin had a pattern.

At least, until about page 150. WHERE IS THIRTEEN AND WHY ARE YOU SKIPPED.

Of course, we go back to thirteen in the next chapter and continue the pattern. In my little game of peek-ahead, I found out there is no particular pattern. My hypothesis to all this is Griffin portraying Madeline’s madness increasing as her age increases. As Madeline grows older, she becomes madder. How’s that for implementing science?

Anyways, about 50 pages later, I’m pretty much going, “Your point is..?” in a very uninterested mental voice that may or may not include a mental eye roll or two in the process. Here’s all that I’ve found out from what I read:

  1. Madeline wakes up in a coffin – Go figure.
  2. She and her brother Roderick is cursed – Knew that.
  3. The House of Usher is, well, alive – Knew that.
  4. The House of Usher is malicious – Knew that, but this was ten times creepier from the cheesy short film.
  5. Madeline has a desire to break the curse on her family – It’s very subtle.

In the long run, The Fall is written in a scattered format (see my hypothesis!) to emphasize the fact that the House of Usher is alive, malicious, and will do anything to keep an Usher within its walls for all eternity. It’s nothing remotely impressive if you read or watched the original.

And this is when the book club kills me.

Sophia is a socially awkward Communications major who has a GIF for nearly everything and is frequently in a Hogwarts House Crisis. More of her bookish reviews can be found at The Arts STL.

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