Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: The Thirteen by Susie Moloney

In Haven Woods the death of a local woman nearly brings an end to a tight knit group of friends who on the surface seemed perfect and unshakeable. When Paula Wittmore loses her job she returns she to her home in Haven Woods to care for her suddenly ailing mother. Everyone in the town greets her with warm embraces. But the promises of joy and eternal happiness don’t come without a price.

The suburbs are hell in Susie Moloney’s eyes. In order to maintain the pristine lawns, immaculate hedgerows, and quiet streets an entire community makes a pact with the devil. Not the most outlandish claim, especially to anyone who’s grown up in suburbia. The fa├žade falls away and we are left to see the festering and poisonous set pieces that make up the (North) American Dream.

Moloney’s writing speeds along. From the prologue we are thrust into a world of death, decay, and intrigue. Characters reveal themselves in interesting and transparent ways. Standing over a friend while she appears to have a have a heart attack doesn’t scream compassion. Then again, in Haven Woods, who would dare to have a heart attack? Death is avoidable for the women of Haven Woods, but that isn’t always the case for their loved ones. When deals are too good to be true, someone must pay.

Moloney’s frequent asides stuck out in interesting and humorous ways. The author often put brief ideas and impulses on separate lines—drawing attention to these moments with a dash of wit. Her characters' voices are young and vibrant. Occasionally an aside takes us into the mind of a character reminding us through repeated expletives that those in Haven Woods are people trying to make sense of everything.

The supernatural elements of the book don’t overshadow Paula Wittmore’s journey home. A suburban underworld is the perfect place to test someone’s mettle. I only wish the character’s limits were tested more. Paula questions everything, but is never pushed to the brink of being seduced by evil’s allure.

Oh, and try to avoid the American cover. The Canadian version (above) is much more ominous. Sometimes I just don't understand marketing teams...

Reading copy graciously provided by publisher.


zibilee said...

I don't think I have ever read anything quite like this before, and it sounds interesting. I would love to see if my library has this one on audio and check it out, as your review makes it sound deliciously dark! Great review today!

Glenda Bixler said...

Funny, I was thinking the same thing about the cover you have here! I guess we all have our preferences.  Great review!