Friday, 17 June 2011

Book Review: Tighter by Adele Griffin.


Product details:
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: May 10th 2011.
Hardcover, 216 pages.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Ages: YA
Source: Received from author for review

When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Brilliantly plotted, with startling twists, here is a thrilling page-turner from the award-winning Adele Griffin.

As soon as I read the creepy synopsis for Tighter by Adele Griffin I knew that I had to read this book, better yet, even though I have never read anything by Griffin before, I had a good feeling that I would love Tighter, and oh, how I did! I am a sucker for ghostly tales, especially those that have gothic undertones, and are set in big old houses, where fear and menace lurk around every corner. It’s safe to say that I love a good fright, and so naturally, I read this late at night. And it is a testament to this book and to Griffin’s writing, that while reading Tighter on a balmy summer night in June, it gave me chills and sent shivers down my spine. Oooh, it is really that good! Ghostly, gothic, haunting and menacing, this book reeled me in and didn’t let me go until I was done.

Seventeen year old Jamie Atkinson is not in a good place. Haunted not only by chilling nightmares and visions that constantly disrupt her sleep, but also by a broken heart, she needs to escape a dull summer stuck at home with her parents, with no friends and no boyfriend to keep her occupied. Jamie’s solution to all her problems is to lose herself in a haze of prescription pills, but her mother provides an altogether healthier resolution to her “mopey” behaviour when she sets her up with the perfect job as a summer au pair on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly, where she will reside at Skylark, a grand old house, and take charge of Isa, a sweet girl who lives in her own little world. Not so sweet is Isa’s know-it-all brother Milo, and Connie Hubbard, an ill-tempered housekeeper who has nothing good to say about Jamie and who is constantly keeping watch over her. Those two, though, are the least of her problems, when she learns of Isa’s former au pair Jessie, a girl who Jamie bears a striking resemblance to, and her boyfriend Peter, who both died tragically a year before. It seems that something is not quite right at Skylark, and Jamie is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery as she stumbles through summer in her drug-fuelled haze, shadowed by an eerie presence and haunted by ghosts only she can see.

While I haven’t read The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, on which Tighter is loosely based, and so can’t make comparisons between the two, I will say that Tighter, with its ominous, eerie presence, big old house, an imposing housekeeper, reminded me in many ways of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Fans of this one will also enjoy the psychological torment of The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield which is similarly beautifully written and has a similar gothic feel. That said, while I’ve read a lot of gothic ghost stories, very few have caught me unawares as this one did. Nothing could have prepared me for the revelations in this book, and while I’m usually pretty good at figuring out plot twists in books of this kind, I will admit that this one left me shocked. I had no idea! I was left speechless by the shocking revelations here, and I have since re-read most of the book and seen that the clues were there, but at the time they were so well hidden.


Tighter is a quick, engrossing read, and it certainly packs a punch. Griffin’s writing style is impeccable, fast-paced and taut, making the book a total page-turner. I read the final pages of Tighter, thinking that yeah, in the end everything made sense, and then with one final twist, Adele Griffin managed to shock me once more, and almost had me sleeping with the light on. Tighter is spooky, shocking and unputdownable. It will play on your mind long after you finish it. A must read!


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I first heard about Adele Griffin and Tighter over at Small Review (thanks Small - now we can be fangirls together!) and I just wanted to highlight this great Small Special on Adele Griffin that you can check out on the blog.  There's a great guest post by Adele over there that tells the story behind the cover of Tighter, and it's definitely worth reading!

Big thanks to Adele Griffin who noticed that I was dying to read Tighter, and offered to send me a copy. Authors are awesome! Needless to say, this didn't affect my opinion of the book, or this review in any way. I just fully loved it!!

22 comments :

  1. A ghostly tale with a gothic undertone sounds perfect for me! You mentioned 3 books which are my favorites - The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, Rebecca and The Thirteenth Tale. Now I have read Tighter!

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  2. Definitely sounds like something to add to my list. I really like plot twists, haha.

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  3. Great review, Leanna! I think this one does sound like a great read for the summer. I'm sure it will have me up late at night flipping pages. I went to Adele's book signing last year and met her. She is so nice!! I will definitely have to get a copy of Tighter to read on my summer break.

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  4. Hmmm, this sounds like a great book! I saw it on the shelf's but didn't grab it. Now I must! Thanks for the review!

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  5. I am looking forward to reading this one.

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  6. I had so much fun reading this review Leanna, we had such different reactions to it! It was definitely an eerie read, I kept holding my breathe waiting for something to pop out at me, it messed with my head:)

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  7. This sounds interesting, thanks for the review! I'll have to add it to my to be read list, not to be confused with the official tbr pile! :)

    Anja @ http://reading2011.blogspot.com

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  8. So glad you enjoyed this one! I've had my eye on it for awhile! It sounds fantastic!

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  9. This sounds right up my alley! I <3 "The Turn of the Screw" and "Rebecca"!

    A definite must-have!

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  10. I really want to read this and you've made me want it even more! :)

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  11. I actually hadn't heard much about this book, but it sounds like something I'd love so I'm adding it my wishlist thanks for the great review :)

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  12. Sounds brilliant! Great review :)

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  13. Love this review! I can't wait to read this now. I love books full of unexpected twists :)

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  14. I haven't read A Turn of the Screw either but I do have Tighter on my shelf and I'm really looking forward to it. I like eerie :-)

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  15. This sounds fabulous! Great review! I could totally go for a scary read right now :)

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  16. What a wonderfully fun review! I am so, so happy Tighter lived up to all of your expectations. That is the best feeling. Thank you for linking to my review and special :) Now go read Picture the Dead!

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  17. I loved The Thirteenth Tale, this is going right on my wishlist!

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  18. Oh this sounds like a must, must read. Gothic, chilling and menacing undertones? You had me at all those words and so much more. It's been a while since I've read a good ol' scary book and this one seems to have all the right elements bound to keep one up long after one has finished the book. Will be checking this read out for sure.

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  19. Oh, this sounds wonderful, and - even though I've been WANTING to buy Tighter for a while now, then kept talking myself out of it - I think you've finally convinced me! :) I love gothic books and unexpected twists and not really being sure of what I'm going to get when I pick a book up. Can't WAIT to read this now! (",)

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  20. Ooh, I really liked The Turn of the Screw, so this sounds really interesting. I haven't read a good ghost story in a while.

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