Book Review: As I Descended

Title: As I Descended
Author: Robin Talley
Genre: Young Adult | Paranormal | Thriller
Harper Teen
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.
Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.
Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.
But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.
Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.
But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line (goodreads).

As I Descended was so much more than I expected it to be!
Plot: As I Descended markets itself as a MacBeth retelling, but I think that pitch sells this book short. Perhaps I don't remember MacBeth as well as I thought I had, but As I Descended seems to only take certain elements from MacBeth and it is its own fully fleshed-out novel other than a few creepy instances.

This book is creepy without a doubt, and it actually reminded me a lot of The Diviners. As I Descended opens with a group of friends messing around with a Ouija board and it gets weird. The opening scene definitely sets the tone for the entire novel. It is eerie and often keeps the reader in the dark, which I personally quite enjoyed. 

This book had me on the edge of my seat up until the last act. This is the climax of the novel and where everything starts to come together. I was expecting to be blown away and clutch this novel to my chest in shock and awe...but it fell a bit flat. While it was a satisfying ending which I still enjoyed, in my honest opinion, it didn't reach its potential. 

Characters: As I Descended struck me as unique through its use of multiple perspectives. I don't know if it was because of the characters themselves, but the use of the multiple POVs just felt  even spookier. The characters themselves certainly felt unbalanced with their thirst for revenge and involvement with the paranormal. 

I had previously read Lies We Tell Ourselves and was expecting a bigger romance element in As I Descended, but Lily and Maria's relationship wasn't as grandiose as I was anticipating. All of the relationships played second fiddle to the paranormal mystery which fit the mood a lot better. 

Worldbuilding: Haunted boarding school. What else do I need to say? Talley picked the perfect location for As I Descended. One thing I wanted more of was the actual "school" setting. All of the characters lived on campus, but I don't think there is a single scene where they are sitting in a classroom - which is odd because the entire revenge plot is centered around a scholarship prize. This is 100%  nitpicking though. 

Short N Sweet: Lite on the romance, heavy on the creepy, As I Descended is the perfect Halloween read!

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