“We’re in the dark beyond your door”
We Wait is a beautifully written Gothic tale by Megan Taylor. First published in 2019, it follows the story of Maddie, a fifteen-year-old girl who is sent away to her family’s country estate over summer, alongside her best friend Ellie. Her aunt Natalie is the current occupant of the Crawley manor, as she is burdened with the task of nursing her elderly mother, Marcia. Sounds like the beginning of a classic ghost story right?
Although it is definitely a Gothic text, with its tone and atmosphere, I was delighted to discover that this book is so much more than a simple ghost story. It begins with the girls’ car journey through the woods as they approach the old house, creating an eerie atmosphere that runs throughout the book. However, what makes the narrative stand out against traditional Gothic texts, is that it takes place during the height of summer. The sticky, oppressive atmosphere is a beautiful contrast to the dark eerie lake and woods, where fingers appear to touch your skin and ghostly apparitions can be seen to weave through the trees.
There are many elements of this story that reminded me of The Haunting of Hill House. The protagonist is a meek young girl who appears to be in love with her confident best friend. Like her namesake in Hill House, Ellie is frightened of the house at the start of the book but gradually begins to thrive within its grounds. In one particular scene, she seems to come out of her shell and starts to actually enjoy herself. It is also interesting to note that it is only Ellie who sees the mysterious girl that wanders through the woods, making one wonder if the spectre is merely a reflection of Ellie’s repressed sexuality or a warning sign?
Mirroring is a key theme of the book and something I found highly effective. About 1/3 way through the book the narrative shifts to Marica and Hugo’s perspective in 1986, when Hugo and Natalie’s cousin Jess, comes to stay for the summer. The two girls seem to be ‘suspiciously’ close and Marcia is convinced that Jess is corrupting her daughter. What I loved about this section was how Ellie and Maddie’s love affair mirrors that of Natalie and Jess. At Crawley House, history repeats itself.
Of course, when I first realised that this book depicted queer relationships I was over the moon! The representation is not fetishized or sensationalized but is tasteful and really touching in some places. Ellie’s growing feelings towards her best friend are brilliantly portrayed and I’m sure that many queer people, like myself, will identify with her adolescent confusion.
But not only are there two narratives, lesbian love affairs and family drama, the book is also filled with a haunting presence. Italicized speech from an unknown source, is laced through the narrative claiming things like: “During the day, we wait, but in the night, we whisper”. I found this to be an effective way of creating an impending sense of dread and keeps the reader on their toes. Who are these ghostly voices?
What I enjoyed most about this book was the Gothic feeling of uncertainty that the reader experiences, as one is never sure if something is a product of a character’s overactive imagination or a supernatural presence. Either way, the trepidation still creeps in – this book certainly delivers on impending terror!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am happy that I was introduced to Taylor’s writing, which is enriched with beautiful imagery and descriptions. I felt totally transported to the Crawley house and its grounds! I loved the paranormal elements that haunt the characters as well as the multiple narrative perspectives and the enthralling storyline. This book is full of twists and turns and will remain with you even after its closed.
I give We Wait ⭐3.5/5⭐
Thank you Eyrie Press for sending me a copy!
Megan Taylor, We Wait, (Eyrie Press, 2019) is available to buy at:
Author Website: https://www.megantaylor.info/
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/meganjstaylor