TRIGGER WARNINGS (as stated on Rory Power’s website):
Graphic violence and body horror. Gore.
On the page character death, parental death, and animal death, though the animals are not pets.
Behavior and descriptive language akin to self harm, and references to such.
Food scarcity and starvation. Emesis.
A scene depicting chemical gassing.
Reference to suicide and suicidal ideation.
Non-consensual medical treatment.
Raxter School for Girls went under quarantine after the TOX broke out a year and a half ago. Two surviving teachers and a few girls are all that is left at the island boarding school. The TOX affects everyone differently – an extra spine, a sealed eye with something moving underneath, a silver hand… The TOX has also turned the wilderness beyond the school’s gates wilder than before. Hetty and her best friends Byatt and Reese, must fight for survival with the others while they wait for a cure.
Firstly, I immediately fell in love with the cover of the book – HOLY COW IT’S BEAUTIFUL! I would have this as a poster hanging in my house. The art gives the book even more beauty once you know its secrets.
As I’ve seen many other describe it, I would say the genre is “dystopian feminist horror”. The horror wasn’t a scared, tense-filled horror, but more of an uncomfortable, skin crawling horror. It was gruesome in parts, but only because it would be describing what was happening with the girls.
“It’s like that, with all of us here. Sick, strange, and we don’t know why. Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.”
The writing was a bit choppy in parts, but it worked because it was the character’s thought process. It was so well written I nearly read it all in one setting. I stayed with it and kept turning pages because I wanted to know what would happen to Hetty, Byatt, and Reese. I also wanted desperately to know how the TOX happened to begin with.