Thursday, October 13, 2016

As I Descended by Robin Talley

As I Descended is the third novel from Robin Talley; winner of the inaugural Amnesty Honour for her debut novel Lies We Tell Ourselves. The author once again chooses a school as the setting of her story. This time it is exclusive Acheron Academy, which prides itself on being diverse and 21st Century despite its gothic campus and the rumours of numerous hauntings over the years. Lily and Maria are senior students, near the top of their class, room-mates and secretly a couple. Only Maria's best friend Brandon knows their secret. So Brandon is happy to play along when Lily wants the three of them to call up some of the spirits of Acheron's spooky past with a Ouija board. Brandon thinks it'll be a bit of fun but when strange and frightening things happen during the session with the Ouija board and the girls start behaving strangely afterwards he's not so sure. Maria is desperate to win the coveted Cawdor Kingsley Prize which goes to the top senior student every year but there's one problem Delilah Dufrey. Delilah is the most popular girl in school, captain of the girls’ soccer team and just a fraction of a percent ahead of Maria. While Maria has always worked hard and played by the rules Delilah flirts, sleeps and cheats her way to the top and  Maria has had enough; with the spirits of Acheron's gruesome past as a plantation peopled with slaves now unleashed Maria may just get what she wants.

This novel is a modern retelling of Macbeth, a psychological gothic horror with fantastic storytelling and some real twists and turns in the narrative. It highlights the danger of putting teenagers under so much pressure to perform academically and also to be the most popular in the school as well as the stresses that can cause students to buckle when they have to hide a part of themselves because of pressure from friends, teachers, parents etc. The horror and haunting is well done and there some really creepy moments. The back story about the plantation and the cruelty that was inflicted on the slaves is also intriguing. 
A great spooky read in the lead up to Halloween. 

Thanks to Isobel Fenlon at Midas PR for a review copy. As I Descended is out now published by MIRA Ink a division of Harper Collins. 

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