It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book this quickly. I started it last night and finally had to turn my light off after 100 pages…my eyes were burning and my heart was pounding.
Alexandra Sokoloff’s background is in theatre and as a script writer and The Harrowing, her first novel, certainly owes a debt to the screen. The prose is straightforward and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say the book is filled with trademark horror-film cliches, the book’s creepiness (and trust me- the book is creepy) does owe a debt of gratitude to all those scary movies you watched as a teenager.
First of all, the book takes place at a remote college campus- specifically in a dorm filled with dark halls and secret staircases. You know what that means, right? The novel’s protagonist is Robin, a lonely girl who doesn’t quite fit in with the usual suspects (and trust me- all the stereotypes make an appearance: the handsome jock, the emo musician, the Southern belle, the slutty girl, the intellectual.) The book opens on a stormy Thanksgiving weekend. Everyone is heading home except for Robin; she has to spend the weekend all alone in her dorm. Turns out she’s not alone, though.
The Harrowing benefits from its fast-moving plot and sketchy characterizations, ie it moves along at a breathtaking clip. That’s not to say that you don’t care about the characters, but this is a book with one purpose: to scare the bejebus out of you and it works on many levels.
It’d make a damn fine movie.