November 17, 2008

Book Review: The Harrowing by Alex Sokoloff

I wish I had more time to read. People think that librarians get to read books all the time. No, I just help other people find books that they have time to read. When I start a book, it usually takes me at least a couple weeks to finish it. This is because sometimes the only moments I have to read are during my lunch break.

I remember the days when I found time to snuggle up and read a delicious book. Sometimes I would finish one in a night. Well, I got to relive those days by reading The Harrowingin one evening. You see, the author, Alex Sokoloff, came to speak at my library. And before she came, I really wanted to finish her book. Lucky for me, the book was entertaining and the story moved.

The story takes place on a college campus. It's Thanksgiving break, and while most students are going to have turkey day with their family, five students choose to stay on campus: the jock, a slut, a bookworm, a musician, and our heroine, the lonely Robin. There's not much friendship between them, but as the hour runs late, illegal substances are passed around and someone finds a Ouija board. Then the students meet Zachary, and the game turns into a nightmare.

The story is truly scary. I had a little trouble sleeping at night. I used to be a horror junkie, and this story definitely has some common elements (the stereotypical characters, the dark, spooky campus, the electrical storm). What makes this story truly unique is that the author takes these common elements and combines them with myths from the Jewish Kabbalah. This provided a fresh twist and kept the plot from getting stale.

This book is not for children or even most teens. The topics included are questionable and frightening. What will appeal to teens and adults are the characters. They face common battles like family issues, rejection, and isolation. Their isolation bonds them together. This is what drives the story and will keep folks reading.

The author has worked as a screenwriter, and this is apparent from her writing style. She paints pictures with her scenes. You could see this being made into a movie.

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