Novel Creates Haunting Reimagining of Poe’s Classic

The Fall Review


The Fall paints a dark and sinister picture throughout the entire book, which is showcased on the novel’s eerie cover.

Laura Renfroe, Staff Writer

What would it be like if your house lived and breathed? What if it was the one doing the haunting?

The House of Usher towers like a colossal shadow, cloaked in darkness and misery. It sees, feels every emotion, and knows every thought the Usher family has; the house haunts. The family is destined to acquire the Usher curse, to become consumed by the inky walls and rigid floors of the House to the point of near madness.

The book The Fall, written by author Bethany Griffin, is an eerie reimagining of the famous and daunting tale of “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe. Greenwillow Books published the work on October 6, 2015.

The story is played out in brief non-chronological chapters, describing the childhood life of Madeline and Roderick Usher leading up to the ruinous event of the fall of the accursed house. Within every inch of the shadowy corners of the house surfaces something new and unexpected.

“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,” a Kirkus reviewer said.

However, The Fall is not Griffin’s only Poe-inspired book, though it was her first. She has published other intriguing books such as Handcuffs, Masque of the Red Death, Dance of the Red Death, and Glitter & Doom.

“I think it’s the atmosphere of Poe’s stories that makes me want to expand and add to them,” Griffin said in a Fiktshun interview.

The very tone of Poe’s original storytelling is haunting and eerie, and readers wondered if Griffin’s reimagining could live up to Poe’s classic.

Nonetheless, The Fall maintained a perfectly lurid and murky atmosphere with descriptions of the house and Madeline’s adventures, keeping one on the edge of their seat, waiting for more.

“What stories fascinate more? I think fairy tales have the same eternal (and creepy) quality, and there are many retellings of Shakespeare’s stories, but otherwise, what classic stories fascinate teen readers more thoroughly than Poe?” Griffin noted.

The novel takes readers on a dark and thrilling story of the Usher family as they try to fight against the curse that has consumed their families for years. Madeline’s twin brother, Roderick, doesn’t want to believe her when Madeline whispers fantasies about the House of Usher.

The house compels and influences the actions of family, becoming almost a living, breathing supernatural presence in the book.

Madeline must be careful to never upset the house, or thus suffer its wrath. She knows when it is jealous, feeling its iciness in the walls, and knows despite everything, it wants to protect her.

But nothing ever lives long in the house; rather everything dies away, cloaked in the gloom and darkness of the noble home surrounded by murky tarn waters. The family will fall prey to the house’s curse, eventually.

Madeline tries to grow her garden among her loneliness in the expanse of the estate, but even the smallest greenery is overtaken by weeds and thorns.

Madeline tries to fight for her will to live above all else.

Madeline now feels her symptoms of the family curse, her morbid acute awareness of the senses, and she wishes to outrun the doomed fate. But with her brother away at school, and the fits only worsening, Madeline feels more and more lonely and afraid.

She desperately wishes to escape, and destroy, the house. Can she preserve her sanity and bring down the house in the end?

“The Fall of the House of Usher has always been my favorite Poe story,” Griffin said. “I loved the haunted house, the failing Ushers, the general atmosphere and mood of the story. For me it is the quintessential Poe story. It was published after his death, and embodies everything that (in my opinion) makes Poe great.”

Madeline has fought her doomed fate for all of her life, hoping for a success, which she believed was happening.

Until she wakes up in a coffin, breathless and alive.

With Halloween growing closer, and the first wisps of fall in the air, mirroring suspension and fear for Halloween scares, The Fall is the perfect book to start the month.

The novel consumes readers, just as the house consumed the Usher family. It raises questions and a suspenseful atmosphere while maintaining the uncanny events of the original classic, leading up to a shocking and heart-racing ending.

“The updated, supernatural spin will have savvy and reluctant readers hooked,” School Library Journal stated.

You can check out The Fall and other novels by Bethany Griffin at the high school library or local bookstores and experience the lavishly dark story that brings a gothic and immersive world filled with unsettling questions and wonder.

From the sinister, haunting House of Usher to the eerie phenomena of the book, The Fall has many readers absolutely absorbed in this suspenseful reimagining of Poe’s original.

“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 Kirkus reviewer wrote.