The Furies by Katie Lowe

Posted On 6 May 2019

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TheFuries2The Furies is a book that grabbed my attention immediately with it’s mention of the Greek Furies, a school setting, a small clique of girls and a murder.  How could I possibly resist?  I couldn’t.  And, I’m pleased to say that from the dramatic opening chapters in which the narrator paints a scene where a young girl is found dead in a staged pose I was quite hooked to the page with the need to discover more.

Violet is the narrator, an adult now, she is reflecting on a period in her life that was a dark and dangerous time full of obsession and toxicity that starts off with a hint of glamorous danger and spirals fairly quickly into something desperately dark and at times a little seedy.

The story gets off to a fairly intense start.  We meet Violet and soon discover that her family life has been torn apart by tragedy with both her father and sister being killed in a terrible car accident, that Violet survived and her mother going into a state of numbness from loss.  After a year of home schooling, and making use of compensation from the accident, Violet makes a fresh start accepting a place at an exclusive private girls school set within its own grounds.

Almost immediately Violet makes friends with a group of three girls who keep themselves remote from the rest of the students and appear to be something of an enigma. Particularly Robin who decides that Violet will be her new best friend.  Violet is much more lonely than she realised and this attention makes her desperate to fit in and be part of the group although she struggles to feel like anything other than an outsider.

The story takes place in the UK and the author has written it so that we have the contrast between the expensive school and the dilapidated and rather tired seaside village it neighbours.  It’s a rather sorry place with very little going on and a bleakness that made me despair a little.  Alongside this we have Violet’s very sad home life. Her mother seems to spend the majority of her time inebriated and the house is slowly turning into a wreck.  This is all in contrast to the rather grand appearance of the school, Elm Hollow Academy.  This is a school that expects it’s students to excel.   It has a feeling of almost casual indifference,a laziness to the teaching that almost comes across as boredom of going over the same ground.  Except for Annabel, a teacher who all the girls seem to want to impress.  Violet manages to find herself one of only four students invited to her exclusive (and secret) extra curricular lessons where discussions on art, philosophy and the role of women over the centuries inspires the girls and empowers them.

Then we have the characters.  Violet and Robin play the major roles here.  Violet ever desperate for acceptance and Robin keeping her dangling, drawing her in in tantalising snippets followed by pushing her away whenever the mood suits.  Robin is an unusual character, I’m torn between wanting to help her or shake her.  She’s on a self destruct mission that’s for sure, dating older boys, constantly drinking alcohol and mixing that with a heady cocktail of drugs.  Violet is completely in awe of her and in her shadow and will do virtually anything to gain favour.  There are whispers around the school that Robin only befriended Violet because of her uncanny resemblance to a very good friend of Robin’s who went missing and hasn’t been found.  Then there are Alex and Grace. Alex seems to live a charmed life, her mother is incredibly wealthy and she lives in an impressive house, but, you wouldn’t exactly call it a loving home.  Grace’s home is even worse.  Her father is abusive and she is constantly hiding bruises and making up falsehoods to hide the truth.  All told this is a group of girls who have their own reasons for misery and despair and to be honest it comes out a little in their behaviour and makes them quite often difficult to like.  They’re prickly and unapproachable, not the easiest characters to champion and yet you can’t help but have sympathy for them.

I enjoyed this.  The writing is good and the tension mounts in a twisted way. You just know everything is going to go bad, very bad indeed.

In terms of criticisms. Well, like I mentioned above, the girls can be prickly, they can be nasty, calculating and manipulative, but, you have to look at the bigger picture, although even then it’s not easy to get on their side sometimes – the author does manage to do a good deal of twisting herself when it comes to these girls.  The thing is, this is a dark story with some ugliness and so you can’t really expect the characters to be all soft and fluffy.  I enjoyed the author’s style although every now and again she does become a little over the top with her prose – fortunately, not enough to become too much.  And, I think I would just point out that the Furies are more a suggestion here than an actual presence. I quite like that though.  Violet is telling the story with the benefit of many years in between to deaden the memories and give them a different and more sensible explanation.  Even with that though there’s still an element of ‘what really happened’.  I will also say that some of the threads here really do push the limits of credulity – but, it’s a story of ‘what ifs’ so it doesn’t make sense to scrutinise the finer elements too much.

All in all, I think this was a very engaging read.  If I was going to chuck a few extra thoughts into the mix I’d say this is a story of obsession, of cliques, of secrets and lies.  A dark tale where magic and myths are made possible and overall a cautionary tale – be careful what you wish for.

Be aware that there is an element of language, mention of drugs and alcohol and sexual content including rape.  None of these elements feel out of place but I wanted to mention them.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




17 Responses to “The Furies by Katie Lowe”

  1. sjhigbee

    Thank you for an excellent review, Lynn. I don’t think this one is me – and thanks to your review, I know to give it a pass and move onto the next delectable cover and inviting blurb…:)

  2. Tammy

    This sounds good! I was offered a NetGalley widget for this today, in fact, so I may download it now that I’ve read your review😁

  3. Christopher | Plucked from the Stacks

    Great review! I keep seeing a lot about this one, but yours is the first review I’ve actually read for it. You’ve certainly made it sound magical.

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this one before, I’m a sucker for murder mysteries/thrillers that take place in a school setting (like 13 Minutes immediately comes to mind). I don’t mind the prickly, manipulative characters, since when it comes to this genre, I live for them 🙂 I’m going to have to add this one to my TBR, thanks Lynn!

  5. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    Awesome thoughts and although I wanted to read it before, I REALLY want to read it now!

  6. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Like Mogsy I immediately thought of Pinborough’s “13 Minutes”, which together with your review made me want to pick this up as soon as I can. There is always a kind of viciousness in this kind of setting that almost makes the presence of the horrific or the supernatural quite unnecessary… 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed this one – and I thought of 13 Minutes when I was writing the review. They’re not the same but there are glimpses of similarities that make me think you would like this too.
      Lynn 😀

  7. waytoofantasy

    Sounds pretty interesting. Not sure I’m in the mood for the darker stuff and such (this somehow sounds a bit like the new Sabrina in that regard), but will keep it in mind. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I would probably say it’s a bit like The Craft. It has hints of Secret History also – but yes, there is some darker elements and some of it has an almost sleazy/grubbiness to it – which is what I think the author is going for. There’s almost like this desperation in these girls to be ‘different’ – cool, whatever and it drives them to recklessness. I couldn’t call whether this one would be for you tbh. It appealed to me very much because of the school setting and also the thought of the Furies being invoked and those aspects worked well.
      Lynn 😀

      • waytoofantasy

        Oh, well I do have a weakness for The Craft lol. I’ll add it to my list for sure!

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