Date finished: 25 November 2014
Forget the romanticism of true love that outlasts life, or the promises of underworlds and the afterlife; Lauren Oliver brings back the classic, harrowing ghost story with a phenomenal new novel that is impossible to put down.
Equipped with a running commentary from the ghosts themselves, Rooms slowly unwinds three generations of secrets buried in a single house. Wealthy Richard Walker’s passing forces his bitter, broken family back together into an old country home where they once shared happier memories. Trapped in their own inner conflicts, the Walkers do not realize that they are not alone: two long-dead residents of the house linger within its walls. As the Walkers dig deeper into their father’s past, secrets become unearthed, and the troubled spirits become increasingly restless.
Oliver’s has a genuine knack for building tension. It ripples through the first few pages even just as the book is opened, slowly and consistently working its way up to a boiling point when everything seems to explode at once, then, just as suddenly, everything evaporates and the last page has been turned. I was left sitting with a finished story in my hands and a hundred misplaced emotions. It took all the effort I had to carefully reread the last few pages, check that I hadn't missed something, and then set the book down carefully instead of - I don't know - eating it because I just didn't know what to do now that it had ended. The story was consuming in every metaphorical sense of the word; it had the funniest way of following me around (like a ghost - how fitting) even when I was nowhere near the book. My mind would keep glancing back to the characters and that horrific house, and I fear they will remain in the back of my mind for quite a while.
Dark, thrilling and simply weird, I dare say that Rooms is Oliver’s best novel yet. She crafts such intricate individual stories for each character, and the way they all work themselves into a huge knot that only seems to be undone right at the conclusion contributed to the breathlessness and excitement of her final few pages. I highly recommend this novel to readers looking for something dark and gripping.