– 4/5 (Great!)
Release Date: 2 May 2019 (UK), 8 October 2019 (USA)
Publisher: HarperCollins (UK), St. Martin’s Press (USA)
Genre: Adult fiction, thriller
How I read it: I received a free ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
After an accident involving her Dad and sister, Violet joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls school in a quiet coastal town, which has an unpleasant history as the site of famous 17th century witch trials. Violet quickly finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, alongside Robin, Grace, and Alex – led by their charismatic art teacher, Annabel.
While Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals – warning the girls off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology – the girls start to believe that magic is real, and that they can harness it. But when the body of a former member of the society – Robin’s best friend, with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance – is found dead on campus nine months after she disappeared, Violet begins to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.
The opening image of THE FURIES is a striking and poignant one: the body of a teenage girl sits on a swing, dressed in white. How did she get there? How did she die? This is the story of how she ended up in that state…
THE FURIES is a novel tailor-made for those who devour dark, witchy thrillers like THE GRACES, but I’d say it’s adult rather than YA (it’s being published as adult). It has definite crossover appeal, though, and I can see any fans of witchcraft-infused mysteries snapping this up quickly.
The novel is narrated through the voice of Violet, a teenage girl who has lost her father and sister in a terrible accident. She joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private school in coastal town which has its own dark history involving witchcraft and murder. Violet is soon absorbed into a small society formed of three other girls and her art teacher, Annabel – and together they study the classics and arts and literature. What starts as an exclusive and advanced study group soon becomes something more twisted – despite Annabel’s warnings, the four girls become convinced that magic exists, and that they can control it. These beliefs have deadly results.
Violet and Robin are fairly intriguing characters, though they felt very familiar – Violet, as the new girl, has a past swamped in sadness, and Robin is exciting and dangerous to her. I felt Grace and Alex – the other two members of the group – were a bit flat in comparison and so it didn’t really feel like they were a “four”. It was more like the book was about Violet and Robin, while Grace and Alex were just sort of there to fill out the rest of the group. I think this book was definitely an example of concept over characters – the witchy, thrilling atmosphere was what kept me going, not any attachment to the figures of the story.
I really enjoyed watching the girls sink further and further into their beliefs that they had power, and must use that power to commit vengeance on the men who deserved punishment. The suspense grows with every chapter, and when the inevitable climax is reached, I found myself both satisfied and in quiet horror. The references to images of witchcraft and female power and toxicity were carefully woven through the narrative, expertly invoking images of witches taking their revenge for centuries of female oppression.
The language of THE FURIES is lyrical and flowery, and it’s for this reason I would place this book into the adult fiction category. It has a very “literary” quality to it – the prose wanders at times in a stream of consciousness and the plot can be quite slow-moving on occasion. I feel that had it been YA, it would have been a little more pacy, and a bit shorter. However, if you loved books like THE GRACES and GIRLS ON FIRE, and appreciate some delicate language, then you should pick this one up.