Ernessa is a vampire. She wants me, and only me, to see it. Her hand is guiding mine as I write these words. (from book cover)
The Moth Diaries is, as the title suggests, written in the form of a journal. As she enters her junior year at a girls’ boarding school, psyched to be sharing a suite with her best friend Lucy Blake, the nameless narrator’s decision to keep a diary coincides with the arrival of mysterious new girl Ernessa.
Gradually, her happiness begins to unravel. As her friend drifts away from her and towards Ernessa, the narrator begins to notice strange things about the new girl. She tells herself that what she fears can’t be true - despite the smell coming from Ernessa’s room, despite another pupil having apparently fallen to her death from Ernessa’s window. Despite what she reads about vampires in her dead father’s books. And then Lucy begins to grow weaker and weaker...
The words ‘written in diary format’ do not fill me with excitement. Actually, that’s an understatement. With a few exceptions (Life As We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer, L.J. Adlington’s The Diary of Pelly D), diary-format writing can make me put a book down after only a few pages. Not this time. The narrator of The Moth Diaries is intelligent and compelling, and she drew me in. As I read, the intimate style left me feeling as though I was her, in her world, seeing events through her eyes. Not knowing what was real, or what to believe.
This book is dark, gothic, and disturbing. It’s been out a few years, but I hadn’t heard of it until a bookseller recommended it to me. Before I read it, I checked out a few reviews online and I was intrigued to find that reviewers differed on what the book was about. Some describe it as a vampire story. Others describe it as the story of the narrator’s emotional breakdown. Having read the book, I understand why.
Is Ernessa a vampire, or is the narrator suffering from delusions? That’s the question, and I won’t tell you what I think the answer is. What I will tell you is to read it, and make up your own mind.