(photo courtesy of Simon and Schuster).
This book had so much promise and such a fascinating premise that I couldn’t help but snap it up at my local library from the new book section.
The beginning had the perfect ingredients for a gothic-esque mystery. A disfigured man, Morgan Fletcher, isolated in a house with only a housekeeper to keep him company. A mysterious group of children appearing at his doorstep one by one. A physician that slowly becomes a part of his and the children’s life. Sounds intriguing, right?
Yeah. Not so much.
*Spoiler Alert for the rest of the book*.
The first several chapters were engrossing and had me sucked in. I wanted to know more of the mystery surrounding Morgan and what caused his disfigurement and subsequent isolation. When the children of various ages began showing up at the house, I didn’t want to put down the book. Even the doctors presence after one of the children got ill had me turning the pages.
When the Social Workers showed up and the children essentially made themselves invisible to them, I thought for sure that the book would only get better.
Unfortunately, it only went downhill from there.
It transformed from a mystery to a mess so quickly.
When the ~major spoiler~ truth was revealed that Morgan’s horrific injuries were a result of his mother throwing acid on him followed by her ingesting it herself (not necessarily an accident as it was initially portrayed) I was aghast and also disappointed. She was an extreme manipulator that simply could not let go of her son and destroyed his life in the process. It was a cruel and vindictive act. Not an accident of fate.
The mystery surrounding the children also turned lackluster fairly quickly. Many things were never elaborated on such as: The fact that Moira never ages. (None of the children do). The bizarre mask given by David that Morgan could only use a handful of times to alter his appearance and voice to what they used to be, the factory visit to ultimately fight against…something(?), the sudden meeting with Morgan’s sister which didn’t result in much. It was as if everything had to be discussed but not explained?
And it’s not like a sequel was written to go into further detail–this was a standalone novel. The ending seemed so rushed and almost forced by the author just to have something to complete it, but it felt empty.
The children were revealed to be ghosts (or something similar) but also had some semblance of powers? It honestly was a mish-mash of theories and ideas that ultimately made no sense.
Final thoughts (spoiler free):
Given that this downhill slide starts a bit after the halfway mark of the book, I would give this a 1.5/5 stars. I was just incredibly underwhelmed and even bored at times. I can honestly say that I spent the latter part of the book saying out loud “this is so stupid.”
I definitely wouldn’t recommend it as a read unless you happen to be really into boring and semi-senseless novels.
Much Love & Literature,