L.J. Lee

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Good atmosphere, weak plot

I was drawn in by the compelling premise of girls locked in a cage in the woods, and enjoyed the creepiness of the situation and the vivid descriptions. That lullaby is the stuff of nightmares, yikes.

I thought the plot was the story's weak point, though. If the old woman could be subdued by two determined people working together, I find it hard to believe a group that includes a grown woman and teenagers didn't try to fight back when they were stronger and more numerous. I'm also unsure what it was that pissed the creature off--was it that the protogonist was too old, or not a virgin? The former seems a bit arbitrary (would a seventeen-year-old have sent the creature into a rage? An eighteen-year-old?), while the latter seems unlikely given that you can't bet the house (much less your life) on a given fifteen- or sixteen-year-old never having had sex before.

In the end this story was appropriately creepy, but it sacrificed believability to create that atmosphere. I think I might have preferred it if it didn't try to give logical explanations or end on a happy-ish note. I would have been truly chilled, for instance, if the protagonist's escape was cut off and she became the new jailer in the old woman's place in the hope of defeating the creature eventually. We would know, of course, that that's not going to happen and she's just going to meet her predecessor's fate.

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