book review, horror, women in horror

White Pines by Gemma Amor

Is there anything spookier than a tiny, isolated village and it’s creepy traditions? Yes, apparently there is.

After the break up of her marriage, Megan drives to the Scottish highlands to stay in the abandoned house her grandmother left her. Soon old, forgotten memories resurface as she discovers the weird traditions of the locals and the horrible hold the mysterious island has over them.

I absolutely loved the main plot of this book. It’s imaginative, scary and gross. It takes island and small town horror and mixes it with cosmic horror to create something almost mythic.

Amor writes well and her descriptions are spot on. At times the atmosphere is so tense and claustrophobic it feels like a weight pressing down on the characters and reader alike. I was eager to find out more and loved the fast paced nature of the book.

Unfortunately, two elements kept this from being the perfect book for me, although it still came close.

One was the first person narrator, Megan. I understand why Amor chose to frame the story through her point of view, but she’s a difficult character to capture. She straddles the line between the ordinary and extraordinary, but I didn’t buy her motivation for exploring either domain.

I don’t expect or need to like a protagonist, but I want them to exist as a full realized character, and Megan didn’t strike me as one. Perhaps it was because she narrated the events from a distant future, which reduced the tension of certain occurrences. Maybe it was because the language she used was lyrical and at times stilted – like her repeated use of the word urinate – which made me think more of the author carefully crafting a beautiful sentence than a human being recounting a horrible experience. It could have been because she did things for no apparent reason and suddenly remembered important information when it was relevant to the plot. I couldn’t get a handle on her throughout the book and she irked me, wishing that the author had chosen a different way to tell such a great story.

The second thing that annoyed me was the ending. It’s a common trope that I have hated since been burned at a young age by a book that ended the same way. I understand why the author chose the ending, and it works to a degree, but I would have preferred if it had been resolved in a different way.

However, there are elements to this book that are so great that it reduces these points to minor quibbles.

I award White Pines

White Pines is available for $3.57 ebook and $15.40 print book on Amazon.

6 thoughts on “White Pines by Gemma Amor”

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