Title: To Break A Covenant by Alison Ames
Genre: Young Adult, Horror
Content Warning: Gore! lots of gore/blood (human and animal), body horror (human and animal), claustrophobia, hallucinations/nightmares, death, animal death, parent death (mentioned), parental conflict (being afraid of a parent), mention of alcohol/drinking, mention of self-harm, mention of divorce, mental illness (perceived/actual), mention of child death/killing, mention of suicide, drowning, paranormal activity.
Debut voice Alison Ames delivers with a chilling, feminist thriller, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Sawkill Girls.
Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold on everyone who lives there.
Clem and Nina form a perfect loop—best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Which is why the girls decide to enter the mine themselves.
Rating: 4 Stars
When I saw To Break A Covenant being compared to Wilder Girls I was apprehensive about reading it as I didn’t really like Wilder Girls but I decided to give it a go. Check the trigger warnings before reading this book as a dark horror they are very accurate to the content of the book. I have to say that To Break a Covenant was creepy, mysterious, gory, everything you want in a horror book even a young adult one and it was beautifully written to boot. The basic premise of the book is we are following a group of girls as they investigate the paranormal things happening in their own specifically an old mine. I actually manage to read the book in a single sitting as I was so gripped from the opening page which very rarely happens with me personally as a reader.
One thing I have to applaud Ames for doing is not making the paranormal elements the heart of the novel, the heart of the novel and what drives the story forward is the relationship between the four main characters, Clem, Nina, Lisey and Piper. These girls are what make you fall in love with To Break a Covenant and the paranormal and horror elements are just an added bonus. These girls are the kind of girls that would die for each other and this makes the story even more compelling to read. There is also a sapphic romance in this book which was wonderful and really made the friends to lovers trope shin in ways I haven’t experienced before. The world and the paranormal activity make everything ten times creepier to read and reading it at night like I did is guaranteed to make you feel very strange.
The book is written in a present day perspective but I really loved the snippets from previous investigations into the mine mainly in the form of clips from shows, podcast and reports which make the novel feel like a mixed media book which made it a lot easier and quicker to read. Ames is brilliant at building a sense of unease through and the gore factor really made it entertaining for a horror fan like myself. The only thing that I actively disliked about the book was the ending purely because it is an open endings. While I appreciate open endings at time I generally don’t like them as I like my novels to feel settled and finished which this one didn’t. I also wasn’t thrilled about the explanations we were given so the ending felt flat compared to the rest of the novel. However, I can’t wait to see what Ames comes out with next as this was the creepiest book I’ve read in years.
About the Author:
Alison Ames is a writer based in Colorado. Her debut novel To Break A Covenant will be published in fall 2021.
I received this review copy from TBR and Beyond Tours.