ARC Review: The Bargaining by Carly Anne West

ARC Review: The Bargaining by Carly Anne West
The Bargaining
by Carly Anne West

Genres: Horror, Young Adult
Publication date: February 17th, 2014
by Simon Pulse

Format: eARC


Amazon | Book Depository

The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.

Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.

But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future….

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

This book is far from perfect but I absolutely adored it. When I first dived into this book, I pretty much had no idea what it was about, I remembered reading the blurb and being intrigued but the only concrete detail I remembered was that this book had something to do with woods. I had thought I was diving into a paranormal book, instead I found myself amidst a horror and a well written one at that.

I am not going to say there weren’t loop holes, there were but I think what really matters in a story like this is that the author actually manages to make you the feel the fear the characters felt and I did. I find that I don’t frighten easily (although I startle very easily) but when I was reading this book, I was SO JUMPY. Every time someone opened the door, I would freak out. I am just glad I didn’t scream!

This isn’t some loosely plotted horror novel. The author takes her time to develop aspects of the story. It isn’t just meant to scare the readers but to actually make them feel more than just fear. To make them connect to the main character (as well as the other characters) and to make them cheer for her not just because someone has to survive but because they like her and want her to come out of this alive!

Penny is a very likeable character. You don’t need a likeable character to make a story work but hey likeable characters are… likeable and Penny is likeable. What I think makes her character a little interesting is the way her own doubt can make her some what of an unreliable narrator. My only complain was that we never actually find much about the ‘old’ Penny. We are given hints as to what she was like but we never really find out more about the kind of affect Rae had on her especially given how much the story focuses on the negative impact Rae’s friendship had on Penny. That said, I did adore Penny. She was far from perfect and that made her all the more rootable.

This book doesn’t have any romance (heck yeah) but what it does have is a heep of fantastic secondary characters. My favorite is obviously Rob (who was the stepbrother) but both April and Miller are fantastic in their own right.

April is the stepmother and she can be pushy but the one thing that strikes you about her is that she is genuinely trying to get to know Penny better. I think that’s what gets to Penny too. Her stepmother isn’t the best person on the planet but at least she is trying to reach out to her.

What makes Miller so interesting is how so very abnormal he is. He would be the love interest if this were any other book but he is Miller. I think it’s very interesting to see how he spirals out of control over the course of the book as we find more and more about what has happened to him and the tragedies that he has to live through (and has played an indirect part in).

The author puts so much work into developing the atmosphere of the book and she does it just right. I was genuinely scared and my eyes were glued to the pages. This book is quite frankly, creepy as fuck and I am just incredibly glad I didn’t have nightmares that night.

What makes the horror aspect of this book work so much is that the author actually develops the back story of the events that lead to all this creepy stuff happening. We may not get all the answers but I think in this kind of situation, it’s almost impossible to have all the answers. And anyway, what fun would that be?

One of my complains was that the author didn’t actually give us any details about how they were survivng in the creepy house. Considering they were shunned by the entire town, how were they getting supplies? How were they making their food? Assuming everything works is too much of a stretch considering the condition the house was described to be in so yeah… how were they living?

Aside from that though, I thought this was a very well written story and I cannot wait to read more of the author’s works.

There may be a couple of loop holes but all in all, this book is one hell of a ride and a book I’d recommend to lovers of horror and all things creepy.

Rating Report
Overall: 4.1
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Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


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  1. says

    I absolutely adored her first book The Murmurings and I really can’t wait to read this book. I love when you dive int a book not really knowing what your getting yourself into and I found it was the best feeling especially when you don’t know what’s happening. Even though I’m always for romance in books, I do love some books with great secondary characters, they really make the book up. Great review, Rashika! :)
    Emma @ Never Judge a Book recently posted…BLOG TOUR: REVIEW – SAVING QUINTON by Jessica SorensenMy Profile

  2. says

    That cover is almost a carbon copy of the Born At Midnight series.
    ‘She was far from perfect and that made her all the more rootable.’ That had me laughing. In Australia, that means something totally different, being rootable.

    I really like the sound of this one, and the fact that it surprised you as well. It sounds wonderfully written and well paced as well. Perhaps lacking in a little detail in places, but like you, I’ll easily be able to overlook that considering the awesome storyline. Lovely review poppet, will be sure to check this one out <3
    Kelly recently posted…Dead Of Winter by Kresley ColeMy Profile

  3. says

    Oh, Rashika, how I love you . . . BUT . . . I’m pretty sure I would NOT love this book. *frowns* I don’t read much horror b/c chicken. I don’t read many books sans romance b/c . . . reasons. And huge, gaping world-building issues like inexplicably having food and supplies in a shack in the woods b/c shunned would ruin a book that wasn’t horror and did have romance. So I’m gonna skip this one. But I’m so glad you loved it, b/c hating the books you read is the WORST. And regardless, great review ;) MUAH!
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Review: California Bones by Greg Van EekhoutMy Profile

  4. says

    Lovely review, Rashika. I’m not even going to drivel like I usually do because I love your review so much and I want to read this one so bad so Imma check it out. :D

  5. Laila BC says

    this was a great review Rashika…but horror thriller isn’t my fave genre…and and yet i find this one intriguing.

  6. says

    I’ve read The Murmurings, also by Carly Anne West, and even though that one was supposed to be a thrilling horror as well, it didn’t turn out that way. :( But ooh boy, The Bargaining sounds great! I don’t scare easily either, but I’m pretty jumpy too, so I’m glad that the thriller aspect sort of worked out for you in this way. Compared to other YA books in the horror genre, this one sounds like a creep-fest. (Because let’s face it, the YA market is sorely lacking in terms of good, actually scary horror, sadly.)

    Lol, nice reasoning there about Penny being likable. ;) I don’t think I was able to relate to the MC in The Murmurings much, but Penny sounds a lot more down-to-earth than the other ever did, so that’s good! And NO ROMANCE!! Tears of joy, man. I was expecting the “everything will get better after the love interest” kind of romance after reading the blurb, but CARLY WEST, YOU HAVE SURPASSED MY EXPECTATIONS ALREADY. Thank goodness. We wouldn’t want good, likable Penny to fall in love with someone who sounds like a psychopath.

    So this is sounding a lot better than West’s previous book already! I love that the atmosphere was just right and that the author took the time to flesh out the back story, too. Awesome review, Rashika; I’ll definitely be adding this to my TBR!

  7. says

    I’m not sure if I ever told you this but I’m a big fraidy cat. <– TRUE STORY. I cannot reading anything with horror, like I just can't. I have such an overactive imagination to begin with that I might freak myself out if I read a book that falls in the horror genre.

    A few months back I tried watch the original Carrie that was made in 1976/1977 and I thought that maaaaaaaaaaaaybe I could handle it because you know, it's dated and whatnot. I was thinking the effect would be so cheesy that I could laugh it off. Yeaaaaaaaaaah, that did not happen. I thought SATAN would come for me in the middle of the night! <– SEE. Overactive imagination. *shrugs*

    Sorry for the long comment! But as always you write a fabulous review!!! :)
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