Wide Reading – Ruined

“The past doesn’t go away. You just can’t see it anymore.”

Ruined is a gripping gothic novel written by Paula Morris, a story about a young girl who goes to live in New Orleans with her Aunty and Cousin as her Dads away on business. Rebecca (the main protagnist) has to attend a new school, without any friends. She decides to go to cemetery at night to spy on the cool kids from the year above, on her way out she runs into a mysterious girl who gives her directions home. Rebecca visits the cemetery often and learns more about this girl, finding out that she is a ghost. Learning that Lisette, murdered over 150 years ago by a member from one of the most important families in New Orleans (Bowman family), Lisette is destined to roam the grounds of the cemetery until the curse has lifted and she is set free to heaven. Rebecca is only to find out that she is a bowman girl by blood and her father has been lying to her all these years to try and keep her safe from the curse. She could be the last of the bowman daughters to die on her 17th birthady and take the curse with her, with help from her friends Lisette and Anton she makes it out alive but its Lisettes time to move on.

I believe that this novel shows a lot of gothic elements, the setting that is described in this text holds common features that are displayed in gothic fiction. When reading Ruined we see that Rebecca has a strong attraction to the nonhuman/supernatural world and that her emotions and curiosity override reason and what is right. Because of her curiosity to the supernatural world she gets herself into dangerous situations. These elements will be discussed in my report and I will explian how I feel about this novel.

There is tendency to keep looking over your shoulder throughout this read, making you feel cool and sense everything around, feeling as if we are in Rebeccas shoes. New Orleans is described as a gloomy, rundown town with grey skies. We feel cool when settings in this book are explained as its not very comforting to be apart of. There are many old houses that play a part in this read, adding to the spooky feel of New Orleans. Rebecca explains the Bowmans house as a mansion with lots of hidden secrets, when she visits the house in the book, Rebecca is not feeling very comfortable, she feels exposed like eyes are watching her from in the walls, she has to go outside to escape the unsettling feel of the Bowmans house. The cemetery is a main scene in this text, filled with tombs and graves, Rebecca spends a majority of her time in the cemetery during the night which adds extra tension to the story. A dark setting is described when ever Rebecca is in the cemetery, arced entrances, crows flying around, narrow alleys, shadowy corners and we are told that the cemetery has a large steel fence around it, Rebecca get stuck in the cemetery a few times as she dose not escape before the gates are locked. The fence around the cemetery acts as a cage in this story, a trap that people are frightened of.

During the whole of this text we see that Rebecca is driven by passion and emotions rater than reason. If Rebecca listened to her aunt, not visiting the cemetery she wouldn’t have meet Lisette, then Rebecca wouldn’t have learnt about the curse on the Bowman family. Because of her curiosity she was put in harms way just about getting herself killed.

“‘That cat is setting a very bad example,’ sighed Aunt Claudia, shaking her head. She seemed to have forgotten about making Rebecca promise things, which was just as well. Rebecca was hoping to follow Marilyn’s (the cat) lead sometime soon. She was from New York, after all. A small cemetery in a tiny city like this didn’t frighten her.” Throughout this novel Rebecca is determined to avoid what her Aunt says, because of her curiosity of what on the other side of the cemetery gate, Rebecca does not think about the consciences her actions could have. Putting her life in danger and changing the future for Rebecca.

Rebecca is badly influenced by her past, and it effects her future. Rebecca is put in danger, nearly getting her killed because her father lied about her past, the curse that was put upon the family. Rebecca not knowing about the curse set upon her family adds more tension to the story as it is just as much a shock to the reader as it is to Rebecca.

The main element in this novel is Rebecca’s easy assertion to the supernatural (nonhuman) world. Through out the text she is always hanging out with her ghost friend Lisette, Rebeccas curiosity plays a major role with her interactions with the supernatural world. Rebecca forces Lisette to tell her more and more about her life and the curse, as her obsession with the supernatural world is growing. Rebecca wants to meet other ghosts and know what happened to them, even thought she is frightened by the idea her mind does not let her give up until she knows everything.

During this read I felt as if there was some uncertainty to what was going to happen, at times the book felt as if it was about to end as every thing had been explained that we new of. But then there would be a ‘plot twist’ and something else would come up, e.g finding out that Rebecca is apart of the bowman family. I think that the author of this book made us think as if it was all over on purpose as it made me feel doubtful and uncomfortable kepting me on edge as I wasn’t to sure on what was in the next chapter.

When reading Ruined the attraction to the supernatural world and Rebeccas curiosity really makes the book interesting to read, as we are not sure what is around the corner. The setting in this book plays a big part in making the reader feel uneasy and on edge, I really enjoyed reading this text because the way that Paula describes settings in this book makes it exciting and adds another spooky layer to Ruined. I really enjoyed this book and I think Paula Morris wrote it very well, she let some gothic elements show in this text but I think it should have been worked on a little more to make the reader uncomfortable like gothic fiction should. Even though the story was spooky at times I never wanted to put the book down and stop reading because it was to much. I think Morris wanted to let create a spooky story in New Orleans after the storm as it makes the text more real, as it is a real setting which adds tension to the reader.

One Comment

  1. Molly,

    I would like to see you increase your personal response to this text. What thoughts/feelings/ideas come to you as you are reading? Do you think these are intended by the author or not? Justify this position.

    Mrs. P


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