Unearthly Things is a real treat for those looking for YA horror that isn’t too terrifying, yet relies a lot on thrilling concepts to tell an amazing story. For those who aren’t too into horror, but every now and again are looking for a bit of a spooky tale without having to keep the lights on for weeks while sleeping, this is definitely a great book to pick up, as there’s a bit of a mystery element going on in the story, too. Because of that, this book spans across several genres, and I imagine will appeal to a lot of people (especially those interested in classical literature and who would love to read a new Jane Eyre retelling.
Janie Mason has lost her parents in a tragic helicopter accident, and in the will her parents made up years ago, she is to leave her home in Hawaii and move in with her father’s old best friend in San Francisco. While it is hard enough to have to leave behind her home after losing parents that she was incredibly close to, she now has to move in with a family that she doesn’t know, leave her friends, and have to make a life for herself somewhere else. It might not be so bad, except that her dad’s friend, Richard, is quite rich and his family seems to be snobs, including his daughter Georgina and his wife, Marion. Then there’s their little boy, Nicholas, who is kind of creepy, especially with how often he tells Janie he “talks” to his dead twin sister, Eliza.
Between weird noises, screams in the attic, and the family skirting around the topic of Eliza as often as they can, Janie can’t seem to get any real answers in the family, nor does she feel like she belongs.
When she meets Daniel, the two of them hit it off because of their love of surfing. Daniel listens to Janie and even helps her investigate the weird sounds she has been hearing in the attic. And then there’s John, the family’s other son, home from boarding school after being kicked out, and the only one in the family who seems to genuinely care about Janie. So she forms a friendship with him, as well, even though Daniel and John have had a feud going for quite some time, and Daniel hates the fact that Janie is spending time with John.
While dealing with all of these things, plus situations at the house getting weirder every day (including a random fire that breaks out only in Janie’s room), Janie slowly feels like she might be losing her grip on things. The only person who seems to want to protect her is the family’s maid, Alma, and why she is working so hard to ensure her safety is a mystery to Janie.
When old family secrets begin to surface, Janie finds that this family might try and keep up with appearances, but they definitely aren’t who they say they are.
After you get past the absolutely beautiful cover of this book, and the synopsis that mixes plenty of elements to create a delicious sounding thriller, you get a story that wraps you up and leaves you reading until the early hours of the morning, because it’s that good.
While I was in love with the story (which is fast paced and interesting as can be), for some reason I felt myself having a bit of difficulty connecting to some of the characters, including Janie in the beginning of the book. I also found myself not liking Daniel very much – he just seemed kind of “off.” Their relationship was a little dull and flat even from the beginning. Even so, I believe the author did an amazing job with the story and some of the other characters – such as Nicholas, who was just incredibly creepy and added so much to the book. The whole Rochester family had so many secrets that they were hiding, and I loved how sinister they all seemed.
The horror in Unearthly Things was a compliment to the overall theme of the book, instead of taking center stage and making this a book that lacks other elements, too. Sometimes you read a horror novel and it’s full of scary things happening over and over, mostly for the sake of being shock value, but that isn’t the case here. The moments of horror that are found in the book actually have a point that is relevant to the story.
The drama between Georgina and Janie offers some excitement to the book, as well. At first, it’s typical teenage girl drama, and then it becomes malicious later in the book. It fits the overall ominous feelings that I had while reading, and it was well done and added something to the story.
This is a really interesting book to pick up, whether or not you’ve actually read Jane Eyre. It’s fun, a bit scary, and completely un-put-downable. It’s a perfect treat for those times when you’re looking for a book that has a little bit of everything.