The Fall

The Fall

4.0 5
by Bethany Griffin

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Madeline Usher has been buried alive. The doomed heroine comes to the fore in this eerie reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's classic short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." Gothic, moody, and suspenseful from beginning to end, The Fall is literary horror for fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Asylum


Madeline Usher has been buried alive. The doomed heroine comes to the fore in this eerie reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's classic short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." Gothic, moody, and suspenseful from beginning to end, The Fall is literary horror for fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Asylum.

Madeline awakes in a coffin. And she was put there by her own twin brother. But how did it come to this? In short, non-chronological chapters, Bethany Griffin masterfully spins a haunting and powerful tale of this tragic heroine and the curse on the Usher family. The house itself is alive, and it will never let Madeline escape, driving her to madness just as it has all of her ancestors. But she won't let it have her brother, Roderick. She'll do everything in her power to save him—and try to save herself—even if it means bringing the house down around them.

With a sinister, gothic atmosphere and relentless tension to rival Poe himself, Bethany Griffin creates a house of horrors and introduces a whole new point of view on a timeless classic. Kirkus Reviews praised it in a starred review as "A standout take on the classic haunted-house tale replete with surprises around every shadowy corner."

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
★ 10/01/2014
Gr 8 Up—Griffin offers an alternative take on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." Instead of assuming the viewpoint of an outsider, as in the source material, readers get into the mind of Madeline Usher—the girl buried alive in the original tale. The author uses flashbacks to flesh out the missing details and provide backstory. This is an engrossing, creepy tale of a haunted house and its inhabitants. For those who aren't familiar with Poe's short story, this title will inspire them to run to the shelves to find it and see what happens or what is different. Those who are already familiar with it will enjoy this different point of view and ending. Altogether, the narrative's even pacing and thorough character development will keep teens engaged. The updated, supernatural spin will have savvy and reluctant readers hooked. An interesting addition to the "twisted tales" genre, for librarians looking for back doors to lead teens into the classics. Fans of the author's Masque of the Red Death (HarperCollins, 2012) will especially appreciate this title.—Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ
“Griffin excels at depicting chilly Victorian decay in a way that makes real the dour Usher curse.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The disjointed timeline and chapter lengths track along with Madeline’s level of lucidity . . . making her overall narration fascinatingly untrustworthy. . . . An exquisitely wrought gothic tale for a stormy night.”
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-08-27
A girl struggles to fight the haunted family house that binds her to it in this reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." Madeline and her brother, Roderick, come from a long line of Ushers cursed to live and die within the haunted walls of the House of Usher. Beloved by the house itself, Madeline can sense its feelings and for a long while trusts it to protect her. However, just like her mother before her, Madeline begins suffering fits. The house will do anything to keep her from leaving. And with her brother away at school and only sinister doctors remaining for company, Madeline must plot to escape before the house has its way with her, keeping her trapped forever. Griffin creates a thick, murky atmosphere within the walls of the House of Usher from the start, layering in chilling details as Madeline's situation becomes ever more dire. Though only appearing intermittently, Roderick and her parents all cast long shadows, and the house is populated with compelling characters among the ghosts of Ushers past. Readers will be swept away immediately by the eerie setting, but it's Madeline's fighting will to survive that will keep them turning pages late into the night. A standout take on the classic haunted-house tale replete with surprises around every shadowy corner. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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1 MB
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

Bethany Griffin is the author of Masque of the Red Death. She is a high school English teacher who prides herself on attracting creative misfits to elective classes like Young Adult Literature, Creative Writing, and Speculative Literature. She lives with her family in Kentucky.

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The Fall 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Andrea17 More than 1 year ago
I'm not entirely sure what i just read, but I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way. The Usher family has been cursed for generations and it's all connected to the house. I at first thought that the house and the fact that it was "alive" was just some sort of metaphor or an old story to scare children into behaving, but as the novel continues I realized that this is not the case. The house is indeed alive, or some variation of alive anyway. Growing up, Madeline assumed that the house loved her and was protecting her but as she grew older, she understands that the house is evil, possessive, and jealous. Told in a narrative that jumps around in the time, but is in no way confusing, the tidbits of family history and Madeline's own experiences within the house keep the reader in suspense and urge you to keep reading because WHAT IS GOING ON?! Bethany drops info as we need it, not necessarily as we want it. I took an immediate liking to Madeline and I love seeing how her reaction to the house changed as she got older and began to understand the house's motives. She is bound and determined to get her family, especially her twin brother Roderick, away from the house and keep her distance from the doctors that have taken residence in the house to study the family's illness. Her parents end up sending Roderick away to school and although she wishes she could go to school as well, she knows the house would never allow her to leave. She is, as her father informed her, the house's favorite. While there were moments when the plot seemed to drag slightly, these moments just added to the suspense of the novel. The Fall is a creepy book. There where times when, I kid you not, I thought the house was watching me. If you're looking for that Halloween read that's wonderfully/creepily written, an interesting plot with a unique narrative that keeps you guessing at every turn, and an engaging main character attempting to escape her family curse, you'll definitely enjoy The Fall. Just maybe try not to talk negatively about the house, it never ends well for those that do.
eternalised 7 months ago
I have a hard time putting my thoughts about The Fall to paper. On the one hand, I really enjoyed it, but on the other hand, some minor parts of the book annoyed me. Madeline Usher is doomed. Her house, the famous House of Usher from Poe’s classic, is haunted. The house itself is sentient, a being with a mind of its own, and while Madeline at first thinks the house loves her and wants to protect her, now she’s not so sure. Her brother Roderick claims the house isn’t haunted, that it’s all in her mind, but her Mother and Father knew about the curse too, and tried to protect them from it. Her Mother managed to send Roderick away, but for Madeline, the house’s favorite, running away isn’t that easy. The book jumps from Madeline as an eight-year-old to Madeline at age ten, fourteen, eighteen, and as such, the story is a little disjointed. But then again, with an unreliable narrator like Madeline, whose own mind is equally as disjointed, this actually added to the suspense of the story. Soon enough, I was just as confused as Madeline was. And as macabre, weird things start to happen, I understood Madeline’s constant fear, and her inability to do something about it as the House of Usher controlled her. I enjoyed how the book one time blamed everything on Madeline’s growing insanity, but then again mentioned the curse and ghosts, leaving it to the reader to decide what to believe. The book was creepy, but not as creepy as I had hoped. The ending was a bit abrupt, and I didn’t really understand what had happened until I read it again. What annoyed me was Roderick. He barely protected his sister, and overall, he was lacking as a brother, refusing to believe Madeline when it mattered the most. Despite that, I really enjoyed the book, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, although not extremely creepy, horror story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a Poe fan I found this take highly entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SezjbSB More than 1 year ago
The Fall is based on the Edgar Allen Poe story The Fall Of The House Of Usher, while I've never read this story or anything by him at all, this book has left me intrigued enough to at some point seek out some of his works. This was written in a jumbled way with each chapter jumping around to the main character Madeleine's various ages throughout the story, but all mixed up, we start the book when she's eighteen then move to say her ninth, then something else etc, while it was an interesting way to write the book quite often once I'd started a new chapter I'd have to go back to read how old she was in the chapter heading, so while I did end up confused at times I still really enjoyed this book. The Usher family is cursed, especially those that inhabit The House Of Usher, the house seems to be alive and with each generation finds a favorite and does it's best to keep that person beholden in it's interiors forever, until their untimely deaths at a young age which is the fate of the Usher family legacy, that and the sickness which causes fits and the loss of any sense of time. Madeleine has been chosen over her twin brother Roderick as the chosen heir of the house, when she was younger she believed that the house protected her, it wasn't until after Roderick is sent away to school to hopefully escape the curse that she soon realises that the house is evil, and it destroys everyone and everything that resides in it. With the appearance of a young Dr Winston who will be assisting the other two doctors in residence at the house, it's not long till he too succumbs to the evilness that hides in the walls and Madeleine finds herself even more of a prisoner than she ever was, she plans to find a way to escape and leave the house forever, but will the house ever let her go or will she end up like all the rest of her ancestors that met a tragic end, never to leave. I wasn't a fan of the open-ended finale to to this book, I'd rather be told by the author what happens instead of trying to figure it out myself, that is the one thing I found most disappointing about this story. But all in all this was a creepy tale that was made even more disturbing reading it at night and hearing noises, my imagination did run wild, especially with the events that happen inside the house in this book, this would be a perfect Halloween read for those who like to scare themselves with tales like this. Quite enjoyable.
Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) Madeline and her twin brother Roderick live in a cursed house, and they wonder how long it will be until the house drives them to commit suicide. This was certainly a haunting tale, but I found it a little hard to follow. Madeline was a bit of a strange girl, but I did feel sorry for her. The way she was looked down upon while her brother was the golden boy wasn’t very fair, and that she should be stuck in a house and subject to a curse, while her brother was sent away to school also wasn’t very nice. The storyline in this did have a bit of a creepy feel to it, but I personally wasn’t scared as such. I found the way the story jumped around – Madeline is 18, Madeline is 9, Madeline is 15, Madeline is 9, Madeline is 9, Madeline is 15, a bit confusing, and the fact that the curse wasn’t fully explained made this even more confusing. There were also some very strange statements from Madeline – “I rest my hand against the wood – too long, because feelings seep into me that are not my own.” And her father – “The house is seductive, It reads our deepest desires.” The pace in this also felt really slow. I wanted to know what was going on, but the story felt like it went on forever. The ending to this was again hard to follow, but I think I worked out what happened! Overall; did find this story enjoyable, but I didn’t appreciate the slow pace, jumpiness and confusion. 6 out of 10.