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Sonja Ska Reviews, 2/15/2024

Thursday's review is a reminder of why Tanatarive Due continues to be one of the fiercest forces in horror.


The Reformatory

By Tananarive Due

The Reformatory is a historical fiction that follows the Stephens siblings after twelve-year-old Robbie is sent to a correctional school for standing up to a young white man making unwanted advances toward his sister, Gloria. The book alternates between Robbie's increasingly supernatural experience at the Reformatory and Gloria's mission to help vindicate her brother in any way she can. 

Don't expect an outright high-octane thrill ride with The Reformatory. While you'll be compelled to keep turning the pages, the tension comes from Due taking her time with the characters, ensuring you understand the insurmountable stakes they are fighting against before plunging you into a supernatural mystery that will slowly shatter your heart. I love a slow burn with a solid payoff, especially when the author can thoroughly creep me out in the process. 

Ever since reading Left to You by Daniel J. Volpe, I've really come to love horror that uses supernatural elements to highlight real-life atrocities. Yes, there are haints in this story, and while they make you feel uneasy enough to look over your shoulder while reading, they're not what will leave you shivering when you close the book for the night. Due expertly wields the narrative to highlight a horror deeply ingrained into our country's history, and I won't be able to shake it off any time soon. 

The Reformatory is perfect for anyone looking for emotionally charged, character-driven stories, haunted houses, and historical fiction. 

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