The Cellar by Minette Walters

June 28, 2016 Whitney Review 0 Comments

The Cellar by Minette WaltersThe Cellar by Minette Walters
Published by Mysterious Press on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Horror
Pages: 192
Source: Library

From the internationally bestselling, award-winning crime writer Minette Walters, The Cellar is a harrowing, compulsively readable novel about a family of African immigrants, the Songolis, and the dark secret they keep hidden in the depths of their seemingly respectable British home.

On the day Mr. and Mrs. Songoli’s young son fails to come home from school, fourteen-year-old Muna’s fortunes change for the better. Until then, her bedroom was a dank windowless cellar, her activities confined to cooking and cleaning. Over the years, she had grown used to being abused by the Songoli family—to being their slave.

Now that Scotland Yard has swarmed the Songoli house to investigate the disappearance of the son, Muna is given a real bedroom, real clothing, and treated, at least nominally, as a daughter. But her world remains confined. She is not allowed to go outside, doesn’t know how to read or write, and cannot speak English. At least that’s what the Songolis believe. Before long it becomes clear that young Muna is far cleverer—and her plans more terrifying—than the Songolis, or anyone else, can ever imagine.

First Impressions

Minette Walters novel, The Cellar, is all-consuming with a child’s disappearance. The beginning opens a Pandora’s Box.

Impressions While Reading

Her captures, Ebuka and Metunde, known as Master and Princess to Muna are hard, bitter, and down right mean. It is very hard to shake. Although, as the plot progresses, despite getting his just desserts, I began to feel sympathy for Ebuka and his new-found sorry state of circumstance.

At first, I felt sorry for Muna. She trapped, beaten, raped and enslaved, but slowly, as the chapters turned so did my alliance with the girl.  Muna, who comes off as poor and helpless at first, slowly starts to strip from this persona and changes into her evil ways. I soon began to breathe harder and jumped at the slightest creak, and like taking a shower after Psycho feared the basement stairs.

Walters’ writing was descriptive and cold with a calculated, psychological plot with eloquent pacing that gave me time to adjust to the dark.

Final Impressions

Like the pan-out ending of The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Cellar is eerie and leaves the reader chilled, knowing that Muna’s task for justice is not yet complete.


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