What would you do if you found yourself trapped in a creepy house full of scared workers, personality-less children, porcelain dolls, and people who attack you when you try to leave? Probably not a question you’ve ever asked yourself before. I know it wasn’t one I’d considered previous to reading The Tangle by Aria E. Maher. After reading this paranormal thriller, I decided that I would probably come up with some brilliant, daring plan to escape and save everyone in the process.
Which may be unrealistic, considering that I had to read this book sitting in the middle of my room with all of my lights on so that none of the bad guys from the book could somehow enter my house and sneak up on me.
The Tangle is the first book I’ve ever read by Aria E. Maher. It is her second indie publication and just released on 11/04. I had the pleasure of reading an ARC and also interviewing her about it (this interview will release on iTunes and Youtube come 11/08). It’s been a very long time since I’ve enjoyed a book quite as much as I enjoyed The Tangle. "Incredible" and "exciting" are words that don’t come even close to my feelings about this book. "Creeptastic" may be a good descriptor.
Most people spend their eleventh birthday surrounded by family and friends, blowing out candles and enjoying cake. But not River.
On her eleventh birthday River finds herself trapped in a strange, terrifying house owned by a man called Uncle. Only he isn’t her uncle. And he isn’t a man. There’s something twisted going on in this house: Here, children are turned prisoners with eyes that look eerily similar to the porcelain dolls she finds lying around. Caretakers are manipulated, the doctor doesn’t heal, and a frightening…thing…with a shovel patrols the grounds, keeping anyone from leaving.
But River isn’t going to stay in this house. Not if she can help it. With the help of some strange people River’s not sure she can call friends, she works to escape from this house before she becomes like the one of the mindless children who may be doomed to stay in this house forever.
The Tangle is an incredible story: The writing is strong, poetic, and tinged with a strangeness that perfectly matches the creepiness of the setting. While it contains strong writing and plot, it also has characters with unique strengths and personalities. Not a single plot element was forgotten in the writing of this story, making Maher a new favorite author of mine.
I was immediately struck by the frightening, eerie aspects of the story: There are elements of the supernatural, the paranormal, the murderous, and the strange. However, none of these were gruesome or overdone, but weaved together in a tasteful, fabulous way to strengthen the setting and tensions in the story. I really appreciated the thought that went into creating a tense, thrilling, creepy story without being gratuitous or unnecessarily dark. A+++
Maher didn’t just stop with creating an epic atmosphere and intriguing plot. She also delved into crafting excellent characters and themes. I loved River’s courage, even in the face of her obvious terror. All of the characters had refreshingly normal, believable reactions to the frightening situations they find themselves in. When you are being chased by something evil, do you save yourself or stop to help others? Which people do you trust? Which do you give up for lost? I enjoyed reading how each of them chose to handle moments of peril and moral difficulties.
There were also some intense, moving themes in this story. The house paralleled Hell in many ways, which made for some very fascinating moments between the prisoners of the house and the supposed masters of the grounds. There were themes of struggling against deception, finding truth, and fighting evil.
Much of this book was open-ended, which is something I generally don't appreciate. A lot of the supernatural elements went unexplained, as did some of the themes. However, I thought that this, paired with the beautiful writing, helped to shroud the story in a mystery and intrigue that only made it stronger. It's the type of book that can be read over and over with a new layer discovered upon each read. That's very hard to pull off, giving me an increased respect for the author.
The Tangle is a new favorite of mine. The powerful writing style and excellent character and theme development make it unlike any other paranormal thriller I’ve read. If you’re on the lookout for a book that will excite you, scare you, and make you think, The Tangle is for you. I cannot express what an awesome ride this book is, so I’m just going to have to say: It’s on Amazon. Read it. READ. IT. *hurls Amazon link at you* Seriously. Now.
Have you read The Tangle or anything else by Aria E. Maher? Do you enjoy paranormal thrillers? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.