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.

 

 

 

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Weekly Wrap Up : 5th May 2019

This week has gone a little bit pear shaped!  I’ve been very busy and in fact before the weekend had done very little reading.  I managed to complete Gods of Men early in the week and then virtually did no further reading until this weekend.  I have managed to read another book but it was off plan – although still a review book so it’s all good really.  So, I’ve read two books this week and here’s my week in review:

My books:

  1. The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss
  2. The Furies by Katie Lowe

Next week’s reads:

  1. Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  2. Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen
  3. A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

Upcoming reviews

  1. Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
  2. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
  3. The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss
  4. The Furies by Katie Lowe

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

Envy by Elizabeth Miles

Just finished reading Envy by Elizabeth Miles which is the second in the series the first book being Fury.  Set in Ascension we again follow the story through Em with the alternating voice being taken up by a new girl to the school and neighbourhood – Skylar.  If you haven’t read the first book and intend on doing so then you should probably avoid the rest of this review for fear of spoilers.

Skylar has secrets in her past.  Secrets that she doesn’t want to reveal.  She’s been taken under the wing of the most popular girl at school – Gabby (Em’s best friend) and she has her mind set on becoming very popular.  Nothing is going to stand in her way – but her past mustn’t come out!

Em meanwhile has a number of things going on in her life – she’s changing, although she can’t quite pinpoint how.  JD – her next door neighbour and the boy that she discovered she has strong feelings for – is not speaking to her and she is desperate to restore their friendship although this is made difficult by the pact of secrecy she made with the Furies at the end of book No.1 – a pact which means she must not talk of or reveal anything about them.  She’s still best friends with Gaby but now also hangs with a different crowd, mainly Drea who helped her figure things out about the Fury’s in the first instalment and provides the same sort of role in this book, and Crow – a drop out from school who plays and writes his own music and is strangely attracted to Em.  I must admit I liked Crow and thought he was a good addition.

As with the first book, I enjoyed Envy – but this doesn’t mean that I don’t have niggles!

I like the writing style of the author.  She does a good job of conjuring up the place and of course being the second in the series we’re already familiar with some of the people and their motivations.  I like the way she manages to build the suspense.  You know that something simply awful is going to take place and you’re cringing with anticipation.  I also think, as with the first book there are a number of points where the author manages to make you feel a bit ‘creeped out’.  She has a way of making you feel that somebody is watching you, out of sight.  It’s a bit of a freaky feeling really.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, fairly similar to book number one.  Again, it’s difficult to like the characters.  Skylar is quite frankly a horrible and deceitful person with no redeeming features.  I just really didn’t like her – and again, I don’t think you’re supposed to otherwise it would be difficult to accept any kind of punishment that the Furies will eventually mete out.  Em also is difficult to like.  She’s not a particularly good friend to either of the two girls who she claims to be friends with.  She only really bothers with Drea because she needs her help and Gaby she barely sees.  She seems to spend a lot of time thinking about JD or running around looking for the Furies but never really properly engaging with anyone.  I think I also found it difficult to believe that Gaby would be so forgiving of her and still claim to be her best friend.  At the end of the day I would be very hard pressed to still think of someone as my best friend if they slept with my boyfriend – and perhaps that makes me a bad person but I just don’t see how you would still have the same level of trust?

Criticisms aside – and it does look as though I have a few.  I did enjoy the book.  This series is very readable due to the writing style.  The content is also fairly original – well, being set in high school and having all sorts of love triangles going on is not necessarily original.  But, if you’re reading YA you have to expect that.  What is original is the tale of the Furies.  I like the use of Greek Mythology in the story and the Furies really don’t come across as the type of avenging goddesses who will be easily appeased.  To be frank I think that the presence of the Furies in these books is underplayed and they should have more exposure.  They definitely bring the horror element out a little more and manage to conjure a ‘Carrie-esque’ style ending to Envy.

I will definitely read No.3 – I need to know how this all ends now.

Greek myth/goddesses, horror and creepiness – I’m submitting this for my R.I.P. event.  Check out the details here.