Others have said it better, but this probably is not objectively a bad book. It was just a bad book for me to read. Things I hate in novels (a brief non-encompassing list): animal death, women treated poorly, children being abused, endings that feel sudden and unfinished. Things this novella contained: all of the above. I think part of the problem was just that I was absolutely not expecting this book to be what it was. It is fantasy only in the absolute lightest sense, and is mostly a bildungsroman following a few years in the life of a young boy named Gideon Belman who has moved with his family to a farm in the shadow of a mountain known as the Orme, and the twisted family drama that plays out there.
What it reminded me of more than anything else was the depressing, nineteenth century gothics that I read a lot of in high school: think Great Expectations and Wuthering Heights. These, too, are objectively triumphs of literature that are reflective of the mood of the time. I just didn’t enjoy them personally. This book is quite relentlessly pessimistic, and the ending felt like a bit of a cop out. The redeeming quality in my mind was the voice of Gideon himself, and his unique and often beautiful way of looking at the world. Otherwise, I didn’t especially feel strongly about the characters, the world, or the plot.