The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Madeline has spent her life battling the sickness and curse that has plagued so many in her family before her. Told in flashes of time and years scattered, she and her brother must find a way to escape the house, once and for all, channeling a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s beloved tale.
There’s something about The Fall of the House of Usher that I’ve always found intriguing, so of course I swept this up as quick as I possibly could. I still remembering reading the original for the first time in a musty seventh grade classroom. The sequel to Kill Bill had been released a few years prior too and I distinctly remember thinking, “Holy sea biscuits, this girl is the original Uma Thurman.” And that was so awesome to me. I wanted to be Madeline, but also not, because who would ever want to be buried alive? Nope, no thanks. Regardless, this chick was so cool she managed to dig herself out the grave and go give her brother a nice butt whooping in exchange for mistaking her as dead. Sure, they don’t exactly have the best ending, but Madeline got the revenge she wanted, brief as it was, and it was the coolest. I, at the time, thought this was all that was good about Poe. Who needed a repetitive bird who’d only mastered one trick when you had a chick who was so built she dug herself out of the ground? You didn’t. I didn’t. That is, of course, until The Simpsons made it equally entertaining, but that’s a story for another time.
That being said, I always found the story, though intriguing, far too short, and always wondered, what else was going on that readers weren’t led onto? This is where The Fall steps in and fills in all the cracks the Usher house was too lazy to ever take care of itself. This joke is so funny. I think it has the potential to make airtime, and you should, too.
Please lie to me in the comments and say it made you laugh. Please.
Any curiosity you had about Madeline and the life she led before the events that took place in the original tale are supplied, and even better, we learn about the parents of our doomed twins, along with other oddly memorable Usher ancestors. I loved the addition of new characters that added to the depth of the story and seamlessly fit in, because I do feel like the original left so much room for that, and would like to think Poe would be proud that people are taking a crack at his ever elusive tales of terror. I just made a really awesome Corman-Poe joke and I hope you got it. If you’re judging me, then think again, because Poe is a walking joke machine, alright? But I’m done. Nevermore.
I felt The Fall also took bits from the 1960 film, which is great because that means I got to pretend that young Mark Damon was hanging around and don’t we all need excuses to think about Mark Damon in his prime? Talk about the original Matt Bomer. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me.
Even though the novel took cues from movie adaptions and the original short story itself, The Fall was able to stand on it’s own and I can still see myself enjoying it even if I hadn’t been a big Poe fan.
The horror here was superb, as well, and I’ll openly admit that a night or two I was sort of afraid of going to bed alone. I can’t tell you what exactly it was I was afraid of, but it probably had to do with thinking the house was alive…or something like that. Point being, Griffin got the job done, and there’s nothing better than actually being afraid of something you’ve read in a book; it’s so vivid, it’s almost like you saw it on screen, except you didn’t have to.
Gothic literature and horror fans alike will be screaming for Griffin’s next release after they get a hold of The Fall, a wonderful addition to a tale that leaves readers anxious and tormented till the very last page.