Quick Reminder: This month we are reading The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty.
Today I’m going to discuss the book in the same way I normally do the IGTV videos. You can find the IGTV video for this talk on my bookclub Instagram page. I’ll give a quick plot summary plus my overall star/scare-factor ratings. Then I will share the discussion topics and trivia questions. Please, please include all of your answers and opinions down below. I want to know exactly what you thought. I’ll also leave the answers to the trivia questions at the very bottom of the post, so if you want to guess without being spoiled, don’t scroll to the end until you’re ready. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
HORRID by KATRINA LENO – FEBRUARY 2021
Following her father’s death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor’s doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone…and more tormented.
As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident “bad seed,” struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane’s mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won’t reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the “storage room” her mom has kept locked isn’t for storage at all–it’s a little girl’s bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears….
Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more…horrid?
OVERALL STAR RATING
I gave this book a 2/5 stars. Unfortunately, it was the first bookclub pick I have not enjoyed. I had a lot to say in my IGTV video but basically, the ending was way too abrupt and unsatisfying. In the last twenty pages of the book, everything became very rushed and ridiculous. Jane’s mother Ruth basically disappears and her ‘supposed’ love interest never develops into anything. It felt so lazy. What’s worse is that I was loving the beginning; predicting a 5 star read. A whole lot of nothing happens in between the story and at times, it felt more like a contemporary novel with horror undertones. It was a huge flop for me.
OVERALL SCARE-FACTOR RATING
On the plus side, it definitely freaked me out. I gave the scare-factor a rating of 4/5. Sadly, the horror only occurs when Jane is at home. North Manor is where all the spooky action is. Jemima Rose was so twisted and evil. She had such a presence about her. That was what kept the book from sinking to a 1 star.
1.) Let’s talk about the ending. Were you satisfied with how things wrapped up?
NO! I absolutely hated the ending. That is why I gave it such a low rating. It was abrupt, confusing and lazy. I wish that the book had been at least another 100 pages and provided some closure. It was beyond disappointing.
2.) Did this feel like a horror novel with contemporary undertones or a contemporary novel with horror undertones?
This felt like a contemporary novel with horror undertones. It was a lot of going to school, making friends, working and flirting. It is only when Jane goes home, we get hit with some horror. The scares, whilst creepy, were few and far between.
3.) Did you at any point in the story feel sorry for Jemima Rose? Why/why not?
I felt sorry for Jemima for the fact that she was an innocent child, born into a chaotic household. However, her nature was cruel and vindictive; similar to her grandmother. She was nasty to her friend and her actions post-mortem were pure evil. I have little sympathy for that devil spawn!
4.) What symbolism did you note regarding the black roses in bloom?
In my opinion, the symbolism lay in the innocence of a child turning dark. We know that when she was alive, Jemima dressed in beautiful outfits, giving the appearance of sweetness but at the core of her heart, she was evil. The flowers in bloom let the readers know that Jemima’s haunting presence demands to be known.
5.) Aside from financial reasons, why do you think Ruth moved herself and Jane back to North Manor?
If I were Ruth, I would’ve lived in a hovel before returning to North Manor but I am a mother and understand needing to keep a roof over your child’s head. I believe her decision related to the residual guilt about her dead daughter Jemima and the lack of connection to her parents. The question that was never truly clarified was: did Ruth realise her house was haunted by Jemima? Had she known that, I believe they would’ve hit the road once more.
Easy: What does Ruth eat when she is a child?
Medium: What was the name of the bookstore Jane worked at?
Hard: What is the name of the term that defines a secret everybody knows except you?
I hope you enjoyed the book club discussion in this post and on Instagram. As mentioned above, share all of your thoughts in the comments below! If you have any feedback/suggestions to improve the bookclub, please let me know. I look forward to talking to you all next month! Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo
TRIVIA ANSWERS: Easy: Her own hair. Medium: Beans & Books. Hard: Polichinelle.