Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Moth Diaries

The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein
Paperback, 256 pages

Published May 6th 2010 by Faber and Faber Ltd.
(First published May 30th 2002)

My shelves:arc-or-review, books-i-own, currently-reading, drink-and-drugs, fantasy, horror, mental-health, movies-or-tv, read-in-2012, vampires, young-adult
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:
Lucy and Ernessa have become inseparable. Ernessa’s taken her over. She’s consuming her.
What I saw wasn’t real. And I know it wasn’t a dream.
Ernessa is a vampire.
At an exclusive girls’ boarding school, a sixteen-year-old girl records her most intimate thoughts in a diary. The object of her growing obsession is her roommate, Lucy Blake, and Lucy’s friendship with their new and disturbing classmate. Ernessa is an enigmatic, moody presence with pale skin and hypnotic eyes.
Around her swirl dark rumors, suspicions, and secrets as well as a series of ominous disasters. As fear spreads through the school and Lucy isn’t Lucy anymore, fantasy and reality mingle until what is true and what is dreamed bleed together into a waking nightmare that evokes with gothic menace the anxieties, lusts, and fears of adolescence. And at the center of the diary is the question that haunts all who read it: Is Ernessa really a vampire? Or has the narrator trapped herself in the fevered world of her own imagining?

My thanks go to Faber and Faber for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the sound of Rachel Klein’s The Moth Diaries as soon as I heard about it. I’m a fan of books set in boarding schools and I also like reading about the paranormal, especially vampires. This books is about boarding school and vampires, but it’s completely not what I expected. I got something very unique, and something that I’m still quite uncertain about.

This is definitely a book to read if you want something that is different from your usual young adult paranormal novel. The most effective parts of this book, for me, were the foreword and afterword - claiming that this book was based on a journal kept as a teen by our narrator, who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, depression and psychosis by her psychiatric doctor. These sections are vital to the story and make it very interesting. Can our narrator really trust her thoughts, or is her mental health making her delusional?

The main section of this book is written as a series of diary entries by an unnamed narrator. It did feel somewhat personal, as usual teen issues including concerns over body image and friendship rifts were discussed. However, I found it very difficult to connect with our narrator. She didn't lack emotion, and what she did show, she expressed in quite a philosophical manner or through literary references. I think that the main reason why I didn't connect with the narrator was because I found her to be a little selfish and I thought her relationships with others felt a little immature.

A lot of the friendships in this book seemed to be quite manipulative. Our protagonist has a quite obsessive relationship with her best friend, Lucy, and seems to be possessive of her. When Lucy befriends the new girl, Ernessa, the narrator gets extremely concerned. Ernessa is later shown to have some strange habits, which, teamed with the strange goings on around her (including deaths and illnesses), our narrator single handedly decides that she must be a vampire. Ernessa seems to be very controlling, which creates her dark persona. I just didn't feel as though any of the friendships in this book were very healthy.

There are a lot of quite dark and disturbing issues mentioned in this book. Although there wasn't any particularly horrific graphic accounts of things, I did feel uncomfortable throughout the whole of the book. As I've said, I felt unsure of a lot of aspects in this book, but it did add to the dark undertone of the story. For the most part of this book, the narrator is battling with her thoughts about Ernessa being a vampire. It is an interesting idea - the reader is always questioning whether the protagonist is sensing real, strange habits, or whether it is a case of over thinking, a figment of her imagination.

The setting was gothic and it fitted well with the tone, but the world building could have been better - the setting felt victorian yet modern at the same time and firmer foundations could've been formed. I didn't really know what time period I was in, and I was constantly waiting for something big to happen. There were some deaths, but they didn't feel like shocking events. A lot of this book felt confusing, not because of what happens, but due to the thought processes behind the diary.

I thought that this was definitely interesting, especially the story behind it. Personally, it was a little too difficult for me to get into and a bit too ambiguous, but I would certainly recommend this to others who are interested in both mental health and in the paranormal. I think that Klein obviously has a lot of talent and it is shown in this book - I would love to see more from her.


  1. Meh, it lost me at vampires.
    I don't know, it just doesn't sound like something I would enjoy, and it sounds rather so-so to me, from what you describe :( I don't think I would like it much.

  2. I'm can't wait for the movie this book :)


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