Page Count 352
Publication date October 2019/ Publisher St Martins Press USA
In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on her boarding school’s property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. What happened to her? And what do her friends know? To find out, it is necessary to go back to the beginning.
The school is Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl’s boarding school located in a sleepy coastal town, with a long-buried grim history of 17th century witch trials. A new student, Violet, joins the school, and soon finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, led by the alluring and mysterious art teacher Annabel.
Annabel does her best to convince the girls that her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, and that they are just mythology. But the more she tries to warn the girls off the topic, the more the girls start to believe that magic is real and that they have the power to harness it.
Violet quickly finds herself wrapped up in this addictive new world. But when she comes to learn about the disappearance of a former member of the society, one with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance, she begins to wonder who she can trust, all the while becoming more deeply entangled in her newfound friendships.
Was it suicide, or a foul play more sinister? How far will these young girls go to protect one another…or to destroy one another?
Allow me to preface my review with a slight disclaimer. I foolishly picked up The Furies to read immediately after finishing The Girls by Emma Cline. I always try to vary my reads so as not to compare them to eachother when their storylines are similar. Through either excitement or ignorance I read these two extremely similar books back to back. I’ve tried not to let it affect my judgement but as I recently discussed in this POST sometimes it feels impossible to hold a common standard.
I was drawn to this book having enjoyed other books based on the myth of Furies, most recently Menagerie by Rachel Vincent. This, a women’s cult and a murder mystery I thought would be an ideal reading choice for me. It wasn’t. Here’s why…
The magical ability of Furies is alluded to in a foggy way, using vague descriptions of rituals found in books and possible results of spells cast- it’s down to the reader to choose between coincidence and direct impact.
The book is based around the wrath of women, their ability to exact violent revenge when slighted and how readily these acts are ignored.
Whilst I understand the need to fit into a group, especially for a teenager, the actions they become complicit in are extreme in so many books.
It bothers me no end that these characters don’t seem to have a limit to what they’ll do for acceptance. I would put this down to my age difference but even as a teen I thought the same way.
The Furies is a shining example of this point. Peer pressure and insecurity lead Violet to participate in all sorts of criminal activity, she knows its wrong but thinks little about the consequences before or afterward.
I found it very strange the way she consistently brushed off all sorts of traumatizing events with seemingly little ramification.
I wasn’t a fan of the long passages of dialogue from teachers throughout the novel. I was never one for dissecting historical works in school and I certainly don’t want to read random excerpts of someone else doing so.
Whilst I’m sure they held intelligent interpretations and added subtext to the overall story, in all honesty I had to skim them to make it through.
However these parts would definitely appeal to those who do enjoy art- it’s just not my thing.
My biggest issue with The Furies was feasibility. I can’t go into too many details without spoilers but the complete lack of consequence was ridiculous. Though it is pointed out that this is set in a small town I refuse to believe the police would find no clues to any of the murders that take place.
As per usual the parents of all four girls are conveniently uninterested in their children.
The death of Violet’s father and sister at the beginning appeared to just be the machinations for her mother to be adrift for the entire novel.
In my opinion, The Furies should have ended abruptly and shockingly. Instead we had a boring drawn out ‘years later’ scenario that was frankly depressing and unnecessary.
I wanted to love this, but I clearly didn’t.
The writing itself is good and the description of setting and character was beautiful. I was gripped at the opening and the pace built nicely but I just didn’t enjoy the story or like any of the characters and I needed atleast one of these qualities.
I received my copy of THE FURIES from St Martins Press via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.