Seventeen year-old Daphne Janus is floored when her parents agree to let her accompany her best friend to a getaway resort on an island off the coast of California. She doesn’t know her parents have sent her to the Purgatorium as a last-ditch effort to save their child.
Her best friend and life-long neighbor takes her to a mostly uninhabited island with a wildlife preserve on one side and Chumash Indian ruins on the “haunted” side. The resort might be beautiful, the beach pristine, and the views from the headland amazing, but strange things begin to happen that soon have Daphne running for her life. At first she finds the therapeutic games thrilling: the ghosts that visit her room, the dropping elevator, and the kayak incident are actually kind of fun once she recovers from them. But when her horse bucks her off during a trail ride and she becomes lost on the haunted side of the island, it’s not fun anymore, and she wonders if her parents have sent her there to help her or to punish her.
I have conflicting thoughts on The Purgatorium.
The book itself was well-written and Pohler’s writing style is easy to read, and the premise of the story is intriguing. These three things led me to begin the book in the first place, and I don’t regret it.
Daphne is an interesting lead character – she’s obviously in a dark place personally after the death of her sister, and she feels guilt about the events that transpired leading up to it. She’s spiralled downhill, and in an effort to prevent her from taking her own life, her parents have sent her to the Purgatorium – a mysterious place that promises to help her get better amidst a peaceful, island location.
The descriptions of the island are gorgeous, and help cast a contrast for the mysterious events that happen there. The events that do take place are suspenseful, however I never got a sense of fear or true horror from them. I kept waiting for the purpose of each event to be revealed and unfortunately, the ending ultimately disappointed me because there was such a flip in Daphne’s character that just didn’t feel realistic.
I also have some concerns over the issue of consent in this book, due to Daphne being a minor and being exposed to ‘therapeutic games’ that would be questionable practise.
Overall I gave The Purgatorium 2.5 out of 5 stars. It was good, but not great.
title // The Purgatorium
author // Eva Pohler
publisher // OfTomes
genre // Young Adult, Thriller
publication date // December 2013 (First published)