Pub Date: September 2014
Recommended for ages 14+
Told in parallel narratives, 10 years apart, Amity is a creepy, horrifying tale of a home, rotten to its core, and the effect it has on two families. We have two narrators, both in their late teens – around 17: Connor and Gwen – who provide readers with first-hand accounts of their descents into madness, and Amity’s history, which appears to lead them to it.
Connor and Gwen each have siblings they are close to, seemingly keeping them rooted in some sort of reality, at first. Connor is a sociopath with an anger management problem and far deeper, darker issues roiling under his surface. His twin sister, Jules, is the only thing in the world he has any feeling toward. He and his family arrive at Amity when his father – a shady businessman and an abusive drunk – attempts to escape yet another bad series of business deals.
Gwen’s family arrives at Amity looking for respite. Gwen has recently been hospitalized for a psychotic break, and the family just wants to start over. When Amity reveals herself to Gwen, her brother, Luke, attempts to stem the tide of what he initially believes is her breakdown, returning. Gwen’s Aunt Ro knows better, though. She may be portrayed at first as some sort of new age free spirit, we see Amity set to work on her, too.
Amity is alive, and she feeds on her occupants. She starts slowly, insidiously, but once she has her claws in you, you can’t escape.
There may be parallels drawn between Amity and the Amityville Horror – haunted house, violent history, even the eye-shaped windows of the home – but Amity stands very much on her own. Ms. Ostow builds a layered, compulsive tale – I couldn’t stop reading it – of growing horror with a shattering conclusion. Teens who grew up on the shock horror of films like Hostel and Saw need to sit down and read a good, old-fashioned, scare-the-pants-off-you haunted house story. Amity is that story.