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The Cellar by Natasha Preston

This book grabbed me immediately, tugging my emotions this way and that. It starts very simply, with an ordinary girl on an ordinary evening. She feels safe in her ordinary world, with her ordinary friends and family. The sheer normality of it is part of what makes the story so powerful; if this could happen to her, it could happen to you.

Summer is kidnapped and taken to the titular Cellar, where she is locked away with three other girls. She is renamed Lily, and forced to conform to a madman's vision of the perfect family. If she fights back, a terrible fate awaits her, but is it a worse fate than losing herself completely?

The story is told with three points of view; Summer's, Clover's and Lewis'. While Summer fights to retain her sanity, it is clear that Clover lost his long ago. The author did an absolutely brilliant job with him, with the complexities of his twisted mind. Despite the terrible things he does, I felt sorry for him at times. I could understand his motivations, even as he sent shivers down my spine.

I loved Lewis. He is such a straightforward, no-nonsense kind of guy, the perfect foil to the psychological intricacies of Summer and Clover's points of view. He is loyal to a fault and stubborn as a mule. Knowing what he is feeling, and seeing through his eyes what Summer's family is going through, gives the story greater dimension.

The writing style was very simple, almost sparse, throughout. The lack of detailed descriptions actually gave some things more impact than I would have thought. The atrocities Clover commits are all the more horrifying for not being graphically described, which gives them a surreal, almost nightmarish quality.

The ending was not entirely resolved, but in a way that felt realistic. It also seemed like it might be open to a sequel, but that may be wishful thinking on my part. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers and doesn't mind developing a certain paranoia about walking alone in their own neighborhoods.

I received an advance e-copy of this book through NetGalley and Sourcebooks as part of a blog tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.




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