My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm a fan of Penelope Crowe's blog and enjoy her writing style there. Reading some of 100 Unfortunate Days' reviews on Amazon (as well as the free samples she posts on her blog), I decided I had to give it a read. So I inhaled it. One Amazon reviewer mentioned reading a few days' entries and putting it down for a week. I couldn't be so patient; I had to keep going, to see what newly outrageous, crazed, or twisted day would follow the last.
Framed as the diary of a madwoman, it takes a long and circuitous path over the course of roughly three months. Three grim and uncanny months. It's not a traditionally plotted tale, more like the thoughts of a (not quite well?) woman as she gets through a tedious, sometimes tortuous, series of interminable days. Lord, how many of the thoughts written have I had myself? How many have we all had? (A lot, though I must speak for myself only.) (But, yeah—a LOT.) And I think that's what contributes to the creep factor of the book—how much of ourselves we might find (dread to find?) in the narrator. I mean, the gal's clearly crackers. Or maybe she sees the truth of things all too well, and if that's the case, well, we're all fucked.
The other shadowy factor is that the voice is clearly that of a grown woman AND YET the way it talks of superstitious mumbo jumbo, the simplistically scared view of the Devil and how he's OUT TO GET YOU (as are the worms, and the spiders, and things lurking in your basement, the corners of someone's house, the backyard), reminds me of when I was but a wee Gothling attending Catholic school. The girls in my grade sometimes spoke this way, I could nearly hear the cadence of their voices as they relayed to me, quite factually, what evil horror would befall me if I looked into a mirror in a darkened room at midnight. It's this credulous childlike view, coupled with an air of know-it-all expert on supernatural terrors to avoid, heavily threaded by a fatalistic belief that no matter what you do, you're doomed, that seeped through the pores of my skin and into my bones. I felt compelled to read on, whether I giggled or shivered or turned off my Kindle device because that hollow feeling within me threatened to keep me from sleep on a given night...Dudes, this ain't for the faint of heart. But then, neither is living.
I regret only that I gobbled it up in about two or three days...maybe over the summer, when the night doesn't seem to return so quickly, I'll pull the book out again and take dainty bites of it instead...one unfortunate day at a time.