The Cellar by Natasha Preston is a gut-wrenching, suspenseful novel involving murder, kidnapping, rape, and abuse. Summer Robinson is a typical teenager; she constantly worries about her appearance, has a loving boyfriend, Lewis, and wishes to finally go to a party without her entire family fretting.
Summer’s life is perfectly normal – until the day she is kidnapped. She is taken to a cellar with three other girls, Rose, Poppy, and Violet. The girls explain Summer’s new life: Her name is now Lily, and she is to live in the basement of their kidnapper, Colin, and obey his every word.
Summer needs to get out. With her family, neighbors, and Lewis searching for her, there is hope for escape. But Colin will do anything to keep his “family” together.
Though the other girls in the cellar try to convince Summer to forget her past in order to fully adapt, she refuses. She refuses to forget about her family, friends, Lewis, and all her memories – good and bad.
The Cellar is a New York Times bestseller. The premise originated from writer Natasha Preston’s dream, in which she was kidnapped and imprisoned in a cellar. When she woke, she created Colin and much of the plot, wondering who, where, and why a girl would be kidnapped. Thus, The Cellar was born. In it, Preston focuses on Summer’s relationships with the other characters. Preston has written 10 other novels with similar concepts and writing style, telling stories of love between friends and family gone wrong and how the main character must fix that love.
Unlike Preston’s other books, The Cellar is told from three perspectives: Summer, Lewis, and Colin. Each brings offers new information about the characters and plot. Summer’s persistent nature shines through in her continuous search for ways to escape, but these thoughts begin to sound repetitive and make some of the chapters boring.
Lewis, on the other hand, tells of his desperate search for Summer. As time passes, his determination to be reunited with his girlfriend falters. Nonetheless, he has the whole town behind him, yearning to discover the truth behind Summer’s disappearance.
Colin’s perspective consists mainly of flashbacks from his childhood and his first kidnapping. His chapters bring a sort of stopper on time, making us peel our eyes away from Summer and Lewis and peek into the mind of a lunatic. Through Colin’s point of view, we slowly uncover what made him who he is.
I would recommend The Cellar to anyone looking for a poignant story. Although the novel may at times lose that wonderful feeling of anticipation, this isn’t a flaw. The Cellar tells a tale of murder, violence, and abuse mixed with innocent love. By the time you finish, you’ll be relieved at the reunion of some characters, but crying over others who remain separated and lost.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.