book review, horror

Book Review: Girl That You Fear by Azzurra Nox

17 year old Spencer Torres is excited to start her senior year at Sacred Heart High School. She’s the school’s best student, captain of the Cheer Squad, dating the star quarterback, and has a BFF in fellow cheerleader, Fallon. The world is Spencer’s oyster.

When Spencer starts hearing strange knocks and seeing horrifying visions, her life slowly spirals out of control. She quickly learns who her true friends are, although even those closest to her have secrets.

An engaging story of demonic possession, truth, and growing up.

If you love demon possession stories, you will enjoy this book. It has lots of satisfying scenes for the horror reader, and there are more than a couple of set pieces that will have you turning on the light or squirming as you read. While familiar elements are present, they’re given an interesting spin that keeps this entry into the subgenre fresh. 

There is so much I loved about this book. Spencer, the main character and possessed high school student, is believable. Her interactions with the other characters are very real. The central theme of looking for authenticity in a world where others want and expect things from you because you look or act a certain way really resonated with me. Spencer is afraid to be her true self, and afraid to ask for help when things start to go wrong, because the people in her life only want to know beautiful Spencer, valedictorian Spencer, Cheer Squad leader Spencer, together Spencer. She’s surrounded by parasites who want to feed off her energy, talent and looks. She craves true connection and affection. 

I loved how traumatic incidents in Spencer’s life caused her to spin out of control, and the lack of true friendship and love left her vulnerable. The demonic aspect to the story plays out like a toxic relationship, isolating Spencer and making her believe it’s the only one she can trust while it consumes her. 

There’s a mystery element to this story, and while I enjoyed it to an extent, I was surprised Spencer didn’t put the pieces together more quickly. Even with her problems, she’s supposed to be extremely intelligent. This fact jarred with some of her actions. While I appreciate there was supposed to be a naivety or an innocence to her character – which I liked – I didn’t buy how she could be so clueless about some of the things she experienced. 

I also enjoyed the examinations of love, it’s importance, and the places it could be truly found in Spencer’s life. 

Unfortunately, despite all the elements I loved, there were others I had problems with. First and foremost, the writing still is all telling and I felt very distanced from the characters and the events. The author is a successful screenwriter, so perhaps this is a result of writing for the screen. 

There are elements to Spencer’s story that follow the familiar route of painting the victim (especially a female victim) as a monster, and while I liked this at first, I was disappointed that this theme wasn’t subverted or played with more. 

There’s a few sex scenes in this book and, while I like the realism of showing Spencer’s change to becoming highly sexed in response to what she’s going through, the level of detail involved in some of the scenes seemed at odds with the central theme and an important development in the plot. 

I found the ending disappointing. As a revenge story it lacked catharsis, but in regard to the nuances of character and plot that went beforehand it felt oddly incomplete and tangential. Despite playing with the notions of truth and love, the take away message seemed to be that only the individual’s pain matters, and I don’t see how that makes Spencer any different to those who sought to possess her. 

I award Girl That You Fear

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Girl That You Fear by Azzurra Nox”

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