ARC REVIEW: THIS IS NOT A GHOST STORY BY ANDREA PORTES

Title: THIS IS NOT A GHOST STORY
Author: ANDREA PORTES
Publication Date: NOVEMBER 17, 2020
Rating: 5/5

SYNOPSIS

I am not welcome. Somehow I know that. Something doesn’t want me here.

Whatever this is, it is saying to me in a voice that cannot be heard but only felt: Get out.

Daffodil Franklin has plans for a quiet summer before her freshman year at college, and luckily, she’s found the job that can give her just that: housesitting a mansion for a wealthy couple.

But as the summer progresses and shadows lengthen, Daffodil comes to realize the house is more than it appears. The spacious home seems to close in on her, and as she takes the long road into town, she feels eyes on her the entire way, and something tugging her back.

What Daffodil doesn’t yet realize is that her job comes with a steep price. The house has a long-ago grudge it needs to settle…and Daffodil is the key to settling it.

The title isn’t wrong…

Let me just say that when I first requested an ARC of this book, I expected it to be a horror story even though the title was very clear about it not being a horror story. I really went in not knowing what the story is about other than hoping some creepy stuff will happen. I got more than just that, thanks to the amount of surprises this book had.

This book had a lot of things that nobody can expect, even I didn’t see what was coming for the majority of the book. The story remind me of those psychological thrillers in which the narrators are so unreliable, but still you keep reading because it intrigues you, and also because a lot of things just doesn’t add up. I thought I was reading a thriller book more than a horror book, but I wasn’t disappointed, I was just surprised due to the unexpected stuff that happened in the story.

This and its bleakest setting really set the tone for the story. I can feel the chill runs through me since the beginning when Daffodil arrived at the mansion she was supposed to take care of while the owners are away. You definitely can feel the scary tone in the story at that point. The fear that I felt was real. It has been a few years since I last read horror books, but this one is far better in so many ways. The author really did a great job writing this story and putting the fear in me through her writing.

In this book, some things are not like what you thought. If you think you’re smart, hold that for a second because this book will spin your head. Like I said earlier, this is similar to psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators except this is more to horror than thriller, and the only similarity is that some things are real and some things are not, so expect there are some things that aren’t adding up. The conclusion will leave you in a shock because you didn’t see it coming.

Daffodil is a teenager who lived with her grandma but she ran away from Nebraska (where she came from) and moved into a quiet and sort-of haunted mansion as part of her job before her college year starts. Her job was to take care of the mansion so you’ll see her living in that house all alone by herself, and that’s how creepy and strange things started to occur.

We know that Daffodil ran away and she kept on saying that she doesn’t want to remember what happened before and about the things that shouldn’t be named. Who or what is she running away from? What is the thing she doesn’t want to remember? And before, before what? Lastly, what shouldn’t be named? These are the questions that made up the whole story. Once you found the answers to these questions, then that’s how you know why this story exist in the first place and why things that happened in this book is the way that it is. It was like, *BAM* and then you went, “OOH, I GET IT NOW.”

I’ve questioned some of the things in this book because there are stuff that doesn’t make sense, and when the sudden realization came to me…I was shocked!!! Honestly, I really did not see many of the things coming, especially the twist in that ending.

Daffodil as the narrator is very intriguing and since she doesn’t interact much with people, it was really interesting to see how this story would go on without much human interaction. Basically, majority of the story was just about Daffodil telling the readers about her daily life and updating the readers on what she’s doing and what she’s going to do next. It wasn’t boring to me but uniquely entertaining, if you know what I mean. It was really great to know what was on her mind, and how she was as a person when she wasn’t with anybody. To get to know a character like this is really rare, especially if she doesn’t interact much with people and only talk to herself for the majority of the book.

I can relate to Daffodil a lot, especially the social anxiety and scared of human interaction part. I was like, “finally…a character I can understand and relate to in a spiritual level.” That was the only thing she and I had in common, and the things about dreaming or imagining things are so not me. When she always talk about dreaming and imagining, that’s when I knew right away that she is an unreliable narrator so I was preparing myself for the ‘real’ and ‘not real’ thing. Too bad, I just didn’t know which is real and which is not because Daffodil is a very good narrator that she made everything look so believable.

When I read about the things that happened to her when she was staying in the house, for example: a misplaced pot, a missing hammer and frog…I knew something wasn’t right about the house, and the prologue showed a strange tragedy happened in that house before so I was really looking forward to uncover the mystery. I’ve suspected an evil spirit lived in there and it wanted Daffodil out of the house hence why it was playing tricks with her and messing with her mind. I was fully ready just in case the ghost would make a surprise appearance but it didn’t happen which made the story a lot scary. Strange noises, missing things, and no ghost? It’s scary to me, really scary!

Also, there was a cheerful-looking English neighbor that acted really suspicious especially when she kept on popping into the house as if she can just enter it whenever she like. I was like, “LOCK THE DOOR DAFFODIL.” It was really frustrating. And Mike who work for a construction company, the dude was really cool at first but then he started acting weirdly and that creeps me out. I was practically screaming at Daffodil to run and get out of the house but no, the innocent girl stays right there. I got really stressed out.

Daffodil is just so sweet but I was really suspicious of her existence later on, and what odd about her was the fact that no one noticed her when she went into this one cafe. This is being brought up again in the final chapter which shocks the hell out of me actually. I’ve suspected where the direction of the story would go especially after the truth about what happened to her and her boyfriend Zander was revealed. The night that changes everything. The memory she locked away and one she doesn’t want to remember again. When I realized, I was like, “WAIT A MINUTE!”

Finding out the truth and what actually happened is the reason why I stayed up all night to finish the book just so I can find out everything. Totally worth it even though I messed up my sleeping schedule for staying up late. If I really look into it and then look back to the beginning, Daffodil was acting so odd that it made her look suspicious. After that big reveal, I knew how this whole story came to be. Also, the conclusion revealed how Zander is playing a big part in this story, and what does he mean to all the things that happened to Daffodil in the story. It was a really nice conclusion.

I was shocked about the twist in the ending because at first I was like, “NO WAY! What if…” and then I was, “NOOOO!!! MY HEART.” It was a nice way to surprise the readers I admit, and also a good way to wrap the story up, but also kind of sad how it ended for both Daffodil and Zander. She deserve to have a great life and he deserve a second chance, but the universe had other plans for them. At least the universe isn’t cruel enough to separate them.

This is definitely not a ghost story, but it’s a love story with some creepy and scary elements. Daffodil and Zander’s love story is greater and sadder than most love stories I’ve read. I got so emotional at the ending because I was both happy and sad. Happy that they get to be together again for forever, and they don’t have to be afraid of another separation because obviously it won’t happen since they’re in a much better place. Sad because they have to live a life together in a different world and that they didn’t get to taste how it’ll be like living a life together in a world where everything is normal like it used to before that night changed their fate forever.

Their relationship was pure and so wholesome, and I loved the flashback scenes about their time together. These two really deserved each other and I’m so happy to see they are now going to stay together forever. The first time they met, to being classmates, to being an actual couple…I had tears in my eyes remembering everything about their moments after the ending. I literally had a breakdown at 4 in the morning.

I would like to think that this story is like if you’re in a coma, your mind is playing a lot of scenarios in your head to the point it made up stuff that aren’t real but it could be your only way to get out of your comatose state. When you’re in a coma, you’re still alive but not actually living and you’re not dead either. So you’re stuck in the middle, trying to find a way to get back to the world of the living. The made-up scenarios is like a game you have to win, and once you win, you will be lead to a door that can help you get out of the game and once you’re out, you get to snap out of your comatose state and ta-da…you’re back in the living world.

That’s one version, another version I had is this: imagine if you’re dead, and your soul haven’t been accepted and that means you haven’t found that peaceful place yet where you can live a peaceful afterlife because of whatever bad things you did when you’re still alive. So all the cruel things that you have to face after you died is like a challenge to punish you. You have to win that challenge and once you manage to win it, then you’re out of that punishment and finally have your way to live a peaceful afterlife. That challenge to punish you could be anything and you just have to find your way out.

In conclusion, whatever happened to Daffodil in this book is a one big scary obstacle she had to face on her own. The scary things she had to endured in this book is like a game or a challenge she have to win in order to get to live a better life. She was being tested to see whether she will pass whatever is being thrown at her or not. If she fail, she won’t be able to reunite with Zander. If she succeed, she will get to live a happy life with Zander. The only thing is, is she dead or is she alive but just in a coma?

I have to praise the author for writing this excellent story. The conclusion was quite clever, and it was definitely a life lesson she included in there. If you want to read an extremely surprising story with good storyline and intriguing plot, you should try picking this one up.

I was impressed by the story and the direction it went for. It was a page-turner kind of story and you may not want it to end. I loved this creepy story, and the fact that this is my first read in October is really fitting. This is an interesting and also a heart-wrenching story of fated love but in a star-crossed lovers kind of way. You’ll either cry and being left emotionally unstable because of the couple or get scared because of the creepy stuff, there is no in-between.

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