The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

YA Horror: ‘Fir’ by Sharon Gosling (ARC Book Review)

on February 5, 2017

firsharongosling

Fir. Sharon Gosling. Stripes Publishing. Release date: 9th February 2017.

Moving from Stockholm to an isolated pine plantation in northern Sweden is bad enough, but when the snows come early and all links between the Strombergs and the outside world are cut off, it gets worse.

With only a grudging housekeeper and increasingly withdrawn parents for company, there is nothing to do but to explore the old plantation house. Anything to stay out of the endless pine trees pressing in on them.

But soon it becomes clear that the danger within the old plantation house is even greater than what lies outside…


Thank you to Netgalley and Stripes Publishing for providing me with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love the Red Eye range of YA horror books from Stripes Publishing (my favourite being Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell) so when a new book from the range popped up on Netgalley, I knew I had to request it, immediately!

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I was really torn over how to rate it. I ended up opting for 3 stars, because, whilst there were a lot of things I liked about the book, I was left with the feeling that something was missing.

First of all, let’s talk about the good stuff! This book contained so many of my favourite tropes from the horror genre: an isolated house, a sinister forest, unnerving characters, creepy children, and a multitude of mysteries. The setting and atmosphere within this book were extremely well executed, and the descriptions made me feel like I was right there, alone in that weird, silent forest, with only the ancient trees for company.

Despite the atmospheric writing, I felt quite disconnected from the main character. I can only call her the main character in this review, because we never find out her name. I had trouble getting to know her because, as well as lacking a name to ground her in some kind of reality, I discovered very little about her throughout the course of the story. She didn’t seem to have any hobbies, there was a brief mention of some friends at the beginning of the novel, but they weren’t mentioned again, and she spent a lot of time exploring her new home alone, rather than conversing with other characters.

The main character did have personality; it just wasn’t a strong one which jumped off the page. I wasn’t her biggest fan to begin with, because she started off being extremely whiney. I can understand that she wasn’t too thrilled about being forced to move to the back of beyond (and I’m sure I would have had the same stroppy reaction at her age), but I found her whining a bit grating; it reminded me of Bella Swan when she first moves to Forks, before she discovers the sparkly vampires… However, the main character definitely grew on me; as the story progressed, she developed into somebody much more mature and capable, when thrown into situations where she needed to be.

One character I did find very interesting was Dorothea, the housekeeper. The Stromberg family inherit her when they move to the plantation, as she has been in service there for many years. Dorothea was rude, deliberately difficult and uncooperative, and was described as having a ‘scuttling’ walk, which I have to admit made her all kinds of creepy to me. If you’ve ever read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Dorothea will give you serious Mrs. Danvers vibes… she was always lurking around every corner, and trying to make the family feel unwelcome in their own home, and I was constantly curious to know just what she was up to.

My favourite thing about this novel was probably the use of mythology. I can’t say much more about this, as I don’t want to wander into spoiler territory, but I loved the way that mythology was tied into the horror, and examined against the other possibility… that all the creepy things happening were simply hallucinations brought on by the isolation.

I was certainly invested in the mysteries of the story, and I enjoyed sneaking around and exploring with the main character, as she made sinister discovery after sinister discovery. I get a buzz out of that kinda thang! Despite enjoying how the mystery unfolded, I was left frustrated by the ending. I did get answers to the questions I’d had throughout the book, but what happens at the end threw a curveball, and I was actually pretty confused about what had happened. I sometimes enjoy an ambiguous ending, but I’m not sure this one was needed… unless it was a set-up for a sequel!

All in all, I found this novel entertaining, and definitely creepy in places, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d had a better connection with the main character, and if the ending had been clearer. However, if you’re new to the horror genre, I think Fir could be a fun place to start.

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5 responses to “YA Horror: ‘Fir’ by Sharon Gosling (ARC Book Review)

  1. Hmm. I’m always on the lookout for a good horror story but given your review I have my doubts about this. I absolutely hate when a MC has no name (not that I’ve come across it often).

    I may however go in search of Frozen Charlotte 🙂

    • mudandstars says:

      I agree, it’s so frustrating – it makes it really difficult to connect with them, because they seem like a blank space within the story. This book was okay, but wasn’t really wowed by it. I really liked Frozen Charlotte though! And if you are on the lookout for a good horror, have you read I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid? It was fantastic, very creepy! Do you have any recommendations? I’m on the lookout too 🙂

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