Short Take: She was the best of Annies, she was the worst of Annies….
This was another one of those books that I grabbed when it was offered for free. I’ve actually downloaded far more of those than I will probably read in this lifetime, but hey, free books, right? So I tend to download a bunch of them then forget doing so.
In any case, I grabbed a few by Amy Cross, and when I went to put them in my “to be read” folder, I noticed that I already had one of hers in there – Annie’s Room. So being the absent-minded nerd that I am, I was like huh? Where did this come from? I checked on Amazon, and sure enough, it looked familiar, and Amazon told me I had purchased it. So I decided to forego the books I had just downloaded, and read Annie’s Room instead. Which is my long-winded way of saying, sometime in the next few months, I will be wondering why I have all these books by Amy Cross in my folder, and why does the name Annie’s Room ring a bell?
So: the basics. Annie’s room is about a young girl named Annie Riley, who moves with her parents and younger brother Scott from New York City to an isolated house in the country, for reasons that are never really explained. Annie has just been in a terrible accident, and is confined to bed with both legs in casts. While they are moving in, a “neighbor” (who lives a couple of miles away) drops in, and shares some very creepy facts with Annie: seventy years ago, another teenage girl named Annie lived in the same house, in the same room, and disappeared. Annie Garrett’s parents were later executed for her murder, despite the lack of a body.
From there, we get timelines that switch back and forth, between Annie Riley in the present day, with strange things happening in the house, and Annie Garrett in the 1940’s, with terrible things happening in the house. It all leads up to a crazy, rain-and-storm-filled climax where the past and the present collide, with horrific results.
There are a lot of things to love about Annie’s Room. For starters, it’s a haunted house story, and anyone who follows this blog knows that they are my favorite. Annie Garrett’s story is intriguing and brutal. I figured out fairly early on what happened to her, but the story was incredibly compelling just the same. Watching this family unravel in such terrible ways isn’t something I enjoyed, exactly, but I couldn’t stop reading until I understood it completely. And the scene where Annie’s mom can’t stop crying is going to stay with me for the foreseeable future.
The present day scenes with Annie Riley, however, didn’t feel as fleshed-out. We don’t get much of a sense of who Annie is. She bickers with her younger brother, seems to love her parents but still smarts off to them in eye-rollingly typical teenage style, and doesn’t want to leave the city or her friends there. It should be noted that we don’t ever actually hear anything about these friends, other than that she doesn’t want to leave them. Her interactions with her family are pretty minimal before the bad stuff starts happening, so when the terrible things occur, it’s hard to get really emotionally engaged. We see Annie being bored, some hints that there’s some supernatural force at work, a few brief conversations that consist mainly of “seriously, when will the internet be hooked up?” and… that’s pretty much it.
Ms. Cross would’ve also benefited from a good editor – there were quite a few typos and spelling errors that were distracting from the overall story.
That said, Annie’s Room was definitely enjoyable. I really loved the pace of it, and the intertwining timelines, and the hints of a darker, deeper history than what we are allowed to see. Check it out if you are looking for a quick, fun, scary read.
The Nerd’s Rating: FOUR HAPPY NEURONS (and some sandpaper. Who knew it had so many uses??)