04 July 2019

Review || In the Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant


Nature abhors a straight line. The natural world is a place of curves and softened edges, of gentle mists and welcoming spirals. Nature remembers deviation; nature does not forgive.

For Harlowe Upton-Jones, life has never been a straight line. Shipped off to live with her paternal grandparents after a mysterious cult killed her mother and father, she has grown up chasing the question behind the curve, becoming part of a tight-knit teen detective agency. But “teen” is a limited time offer, and when her friends start looking for adult professions, it’s up to Harlowe to find them one last case so that they can go out in a blaze of glory.

Welcome to Spindrift House.

The stories and legends surrounding the decrepit property are countless and contradictory, but one thing is clear: there are people willing to pay a great deal to determine the legal ownership of the house. When Harlowe and her friends agree to investigate the mystery behind the manor, they do so on the assumption that they’ll be going down in history as the ones who determined who built Spindrift House—and why. The house has secrets. They have the skills. They have a plan. They have everything they need to solve the mystery.

Everything they need except for time. Because Spindrift House keeps its secrets for a reason, and it has no intention of letting them go.

Nature abhors a straight line.

Here’s where the story bends.
 



Mira Grant is one of my "must reads". I don't care whether it's viruses, zombies, or mermaids from the Mariana Trench, there's something about the way she merges science with fiction. When I saw this available on NetGalley for review, I jumped at the chance to review!

Harlowe and her best friends were the Answer Squad, a Scooby Doo teen gang if I've ever seen one. Feeling the pressure to grow up and do adult things, they go for one last ditch effort at a haunted house to stay the night and discover which warring family actually owns the place. Plenty of hijinks for the Scoobs to get into. Sounds great, right? 

I really struggled with the characters in this one. I think that's what kept me from really enjoying it. Harlowe is an emotional null. She's so detached from everything it's hard to feel her love for her friends, or even her apparent infatuation with Addy. We're told that she has these feelings but they didn't really come through to me. When the friends start being knocking off, it was like oh well! Heck, the house felt like more of a solid character than any of the four. A+ for atmosphere. D- for character development. Maybe if this wasn't a novella, more time could have been spent on it and I would have enjoyed it more. I like being shown as a reader instead of just told and their whole backstory and emotional connection was just there on the pages. I didn't really form enough of an attachment to care about what happened to any of them. 

Needless to say, In the Shadow of Spindrift House was a different read for this reader who will read anything Mira Grant, and I mean, anything. I didn't find it to "feel" very much like a Mira Grant book. It does have that tone that Mira Grant books do. I can't really explain it other than to say it's a narrator tone. I wonder though if this shouldn't have been marketed under Seannan McGuire instead. While not urban fantasy or fae-related, it feels very much in tune with the Luidaeg's tower in the last Toby Daye book, Night and Silence. I'm not a Lovecraft fan so maybe that's why I didn't love it. Or maybe I'm only an October Daye and Newflesh fan, though I adored her killer mermaid books. I just haven't loved any of her stand alones. Will that stop me from reading them in the future? 

Not a chance.