Happy Spooky Season Readers,
This was another book I wanted to read thanks to its brilliant synopsis however the finished story was slightly different to what I thought I would end up reading and scarier than I thought it would be. The synopsis I read: At four months old, Olivia Dahl was almost murdered. Driven by haunting visions, her mother became obsessed with the idea that Olivia was a changeling, and that the only way to get her real baby back was to make a trade with the "dead women" living at the bottom of the well. Now Olivia is ready to give birth to a daughter of her own...and for the first time, she hears the women whispering.
I know I said the best horror stories are the ones that have a foot in reality however this book looks at post-partum depression and gives it a physical manifestation. I understand that this book will not be for everyone and appreciate that Katrina has put a note at the beginning of the book that addresses the themes within the book such as mental illness, post-partum depression, the contemplation of self-harm and suicide.
I was slightly obsessed with the story, but I had to read it in the day. There is something about making a physical being out of a mental health demon that has always put me on edge. This book honestly had everything I could ever ask for in a horror book it’s believable, sinister, heartbreaking and ominous.
The story is told from two perspectives, Olivia, and her Mother. Throughout these timelines both women see and hear visions of a "Black Haired Woman", who gives them the feelings of self-loathing, paranoia, and delusions about themselves and their babies. “The baby doesn’t look right” and “the baby doesn’t act right” It’s almost as if a changeling from folklore, has replaced the child.
Olivia starts to question herself and wonders if her mother’s mental illness could be hereditary as after the birth of her child strange things start to happen. I loved the ending of this book after I finished the book the realisation hit me “what if everything Olivia went through wasn’t because of her mental health, what if something paranormal actually happened?” The book lived rent free in my head for a couple of days.
The writing is wonderful, and Katrina clearly knows how to create an unsettling supernatural being. The plot unfolds at a continuous pace, building the tension perfectly without having to rely on cheap shock factors to move the plot along. Also, the difference in perspectives was clear which was something I really appreciated as sometimes its easy to get a little muddled.
I adored this book and can’t wait to see what Katrina writes next.