Haunted: The Arnaud Legacy, by Lynn Carthage, had me backed into a corner. I sat reading this book in the corner of my living room, sitting up straight with my body pressed as close to both walls as possible, pushed there by the desire to cut off all possible routes of an attack by some force unknown. I pored through the book in a single day, and during the times I was forced to leave my corner, I did so with quick and jerky movements: checking behind the shower curtain in the bathroom, certain that whatever plagued the Arnaud Manor in Haunted was going to find me in my home. If you’re looking for a book that combines the trials of adolescence with a serious creep factor – Haunted is the book for you.
Reading a young adult horror novel is not something that I thought I would find myself doing (let alone enjoying), yet the story that Carthage weaves from the very beginning is one that I couldn’t put down. I wanted to look away from the mysterious story unraveling in front of me, but the enigmatic nature of the Arnaud manor, and the people inside of it, kept me hooked.
The story opens on Phoebe, a typical teen with a not so typical problem: something she has done – something big, something unforgivable – drove her family to leave their home in the states and move to the isolated English manor of the Arnaud family. Connected to her via her stepfather’s ancestors in the 1700s, the sprawling and stately mansion stands abandoned, all but forgotten except for the town whispers:
“I know what you mean,” I said, trying to figure out if I should feel offended. “It’s been neglected.”
“Neglected. And haunted.”
Lynn Carthage, a pseudonym for the author, draws you in to the mysterious life of Phoebe, and the home that she finds has a strange pull on her:
“The stairs were steep but seemed to draw me upward. Come in, come in. … Some sort of invitation was being issued to me. Something lonely was made glad by our visit.”
Unlike other horror stories that might rely on the reader’s doubt of the supernatural to instill fear, Carthage does not shy away from letting you know the truth right off the bat: something is happening in Phoebe’s house – something very bad.
My own personal move into the corner of the living room came early, in chapter one:
“I was drifting restlessly when I heard the organ. It was playing low and quiet, a plodding, rhythmic bit of music, so subtle I thought for a while it was just noise in my head. When I realized what I was hearing, I sat bolt upright, my heart pounding. The music seemed to disappear the more I concentrated on listening, like trying to figure out what a newscaster is saying on a TV a room away”
From there, the story only dives further into the creepiness of the Arnaud mansion. Phoebe begins questioning everything she knows to be real – and with good reason. What force is behind the awful things she keeps seeing? What does Miles, the handsome but mysterious local boy, have to do with it? And how, oh how, can she make her parents believe her? I turned, page after page, feeling the confusion that Phoebe feels, scared of the twists and turns the house itself seemed to be providing for her.
Haunted is a quick and entertaining read, and while it might appeal more to teens and young adults, it is a perfect choice for anyone looking to add a little bit of mystery and eeriness to their book list. And for those readers that aren’t sure they’re horror fans: take it from someone who never thought they would enjoy a book like this – you’ll want to keep reading it until the end!
The book jacket promises “a twist you’ll never see coming”, and while some readers might catch on to the secret earlier than Carthage reveals it, it didn’t make me any less interested in what was going to happen. My only complaint might be that I had some questions left unanswered. However, finding out that the next book in the series, Betrayal, comes out in 2016, I was left satisfied. Carthage certainly created a world of characters that you’ll want to keep following – to see just what mysteries await Phoebe and her family… if the Arnaud manor doesn’t destroy them first!