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For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor,and the startling revelations their behavior evokes. In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor,and the startling revelations their behavior evokes. In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up. Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan's lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan's library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan's past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan's mind. The Children's Home is a genre-defying, utterly bewitching masterwork, an inversion of modern fairy tales like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass, in which children visit faraway lands to accomplish elusive tasks. Lambert writes from the perspective of the visited, weaving elements of psychological suspense, Jamesian stream of consciousness, and neo-gothic horror, to reveal the inescapable effects of abandonment, isolation, and the grotesque - as well as the glimmers of goodness - buried deep within the soul.


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For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor,and the startling revelations their behavior evokes. In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor,and the startling revelations their behavior evokes. In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up. Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan's lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan's library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan's past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan's mind. The Children's Home is a genre-defying, utterly bewitching masterwork, an inversion of modern fairy tales like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass, in which children visit faraway lands to accomplish elusive tasks. Lambert writes from the perspective of the visited, weaving elements of psychological suspense, Jamesian stream of consciousness, and neo-gothic horror, to reveal the inescapable effects of abandonment, isolation, and the grotesque - as well as the glimmers of goodness - buried deep within the soul.

30 review for The Children's Home

  1. 5 out of 5

    karen

    "It seems I'm doomed always to miss the point." and it seems i have missed the point of this book. i don't know the circumstances around the writing of this book, but it feels less like the author had a clear idea of his story's direction in mind and wrote purposefully towards that conclusion and more like he wrote a bunch of admittedly arresting and creepy images and then thought - shit - ending, ending, ending… part of the problem is its length. in e-ARC form, it's 162 pages. as a novella or a t "It seems I'm doomed always to miss the point." and it seems i have missed the point of this book. i don't know the circumstances around the writing of this book, but it feels less like the author had a clear idea of his story's direction in mind and wrote purposefully towards that conclusion and more like he wrote a bunch of admittedly arresting and creepy images and then thought - shit - ending, ending, ending… part of the problem is its length. in e-ARC form, it's 162 pages. as a novella or a tor short, i think this could have been excellent; the idea has promise, but it's too long and detailed to be a fairy tale and too short to work as a gothic horror novel. it feels a little like one of those cheese porcupines where it looks impressive, but none of the tastes really work together, and it's kind of sensory overload with too many sticky-outy details. i'm generally a fan of these kind of slipstream borderline fairytale stories, but there has to be something to them to be effective. there's some truly compelling and violent imagery here, but there's no cohesive story, nothing that binds the tale into a satisfying whole, allegorical or otherwise. morgan is a man who has been horribly disfigured in an accident. (view spoiler)[let's call it an accident (hide spoiler)] he lives a withdrawn and reclusive life on his massive estate alone except for a housekeeper named engel, who appeared mysteriously on his doorstep one day, seeming to already know his particular tastes and needs. he inherited the estate and plenty of money to keep him in a state of suspended animation as he lives in ignorance of the world outside his gates, spending his days in a hidden and windowless book-lined room where he catalogs the estate's library, never leaving the grounds. we learn some details about morgan's childhood and about the turmoil and violence outside the estate's walls: the guards, the destruction, the poverty; things he witnessed when he still left the grounds, and things he was told were occurring. it's all very vague: There were tales of what the army did to people, tales that were told in the kitchen and beneath the stairs. these tales, and the shame of his once-beautiful and now destroyed face, are enough to keep morgan shuttered away from the perceived dangers of the world, entrusting the management of the house to engel. So much went on in the house of which he was unaware. The running of the place, he often thought, was blessedly arranged behind his back he mostly just drifts in an extremely narrow range of experiences, existing without truly living. until the day the children begin to appear. the first to arrive is moira, a baby of a few weeks old. they continue to arrive, unaccompanied, unexpected, sometimes emerging out of the air itself, and range in age up to the oldest - david - a boy of five. in typically passive morgan fashion, he is unsurprised and unruffled by their appearance, and accepts their existence in his home: He knew there was a mystery about these children, and not only in the nature of their arrival, but he pushed the thought aside. he feels a bewildered love for these children, and assumes charge of them; adapting to their presence as he has adapted to engel's presence; as he adapts to all things. his role is less responsible adult and more observer, always on the periphery of their games and laughter, noting It has never been a house that welcomed love. morgan notices their oddities, but only questions it in the most casually offhand way. david in particular behaves much older than his years and assumes authority over the entire household. the children seem to share an unspoken purpose, which is obscure to morgan. "There are times I think they were all together before they came here, wherever they were, wherever that was. Some other place." when moira falls ill, doctor crane is called in to consult, and after a period of shy hiding and observing, morgan eventually emerges and the men establish a friendship, after which doctor crane moves in as well. morgan reveals to crane the origin both of his severe facial scarring and his wealth, as he understands it. he knows his family owns and operates a factory, but he isn't clear on what they produce. his sister rebecca, whom he hasn't seen in many years, is running the family business while he remains voluntarily sequestered, the monster behind the walls. as the children continue to arrive and behave in enigmatic ways, they spend their time scouring the estate's books for … something. "But it must be. It must be here somewhere," the boy said, throwing the book down and picking up another. "Or what's the point?" "But what?" said the Doctor. "What are you looking for that's so important?" "What we were looking for," insisted Melissa when David didn't answer. "That's what's important." this evasiveness pervades the book and is very frustrating. the mystery of the children's appearance and their purpose is drawn out foreeeever, and it reads like nothing more than the author toying with the reader. there's a lot of repetition of "who are these children?" and "what do they want?" and the answering repetition of "not yet" and "The time will come. You'll see. it's cryptic for the sake of cryptic. "Where are you from?" said Morgan. … "I'm from where we were taken," said David. "We all are." And then he turned away, and would say no more. and eventually it erupts into hostility, which the reader can't help but take a little personally "He's right. Not yet," he said. "We're still not ready." "Ready for what?" said Morgan. David was normally so patient. But this time he said, "How many times must you ask and not be told before you stop? Why can't you just wait?" we're waiting, we are, but get on with it already. "David knows best," said Melissa. "You have to trust him, like the rest of us do." and i'm trusting, but sometimes it's nice to have a sense of where the story is going instead of just being told to wait and see. as though we have a choice. a further complication is the blurry nature of the children themselves. we never get a sense of how many there actually are, but it seems to be somewhere in the dozen-to-twenty range. they are amorphous to the point where the seed is planted that they might not exist at all "Have you ever noticed," he said, "that the children seem to know when they're not wanted, not in the ministerial sense, of course, but, you know, when somebody simply wants to be quiet, I suppose I mean when I want to be quiet? They just disappear, they make themselves scarce, as though they've never been in the house at all, as though they've never existed. And then, just when you notice and start to wonder where they are, when you start to worry about them, I suppose, although you might not realize it's worry, it registers as a sort of apprehension, they reappear as miraculously as they disappeared. They pop up from behind a sofa or you hear them crying or calling things out in the garden. But haven't you ever wondered just where they go?…It's as though they came from the air." and when asked by crane if he has ever mentioned this phenomenon to engel, "Because that's the other thing. I know it sounds absurd, I hardly like to admit it, but sometimes I have the strong impression that Engel disappears along with them. Sometimes I feel that I'm utterly alone, not just in the house but altogether, in the world in a way, as though none of them had ever been." which is another layer of unreliability and confusion muddying up a story too short and slight to contain all its questions. ultimately, we get answers. sort of. the problem is that this story exists in a temporal and geographical void, where locations are referred to in only the broadest terms. i assume it is england because of the histories of fox hunting and the presence of the illustrated london magazine on the estate, but otherwise, we are just told vaguely about "the city" or "the factory." by not giving us context in terms of location or time period, the eventual reveal means nothing, and we aren't sure if the events are taking place in the real world, or are meant to be allegorical stand-ins for historically similar occurrences. it's a collection of striking scenes and imagery: there are suspicious and kafkaesque men from the ministry of welfare, a magical transformative mask, a mysterious chest containing a wax statue of a pregnant women whose stomach is hinged to reveal the baby inside and which seems to hypnotize the worshipful children, a wax head in the same design, as well as the horrific details of morgan's accident, his mother's cruelty and her decline, and of course - the big moments towards the end. they are all memorable scenes, but they seem to have little to do with each other - they are separate cogs that don't turn the machine. the style is also intriguing - it's one of those books where each chapter opens with a summary of the contents to be found within: CHAPTER ONE in which Morgan explains the living daylights and the children begin to arrive CHAPTER SEVEN in which Morgan and Doctor Crane play backgammon which is more a convention of children's stories, i think, although i have been encountering it a lot lately, so maybe it's coming back into vogue. i do love the sinister tone of this book, and i'm a fan of uncanny stories with spooky, knowing children in hauntedish houses with unreliable narrators and the feeling of readerly discovery, and there's definitely good writing, particularly in morgan's musings on identity and appearance He wanted to see if anyone had lived with the living face removed and only the mask remaining, pressed and sealed to the bone. But the writer had no interest in the notion that faces and masks might be interchangeable, or that the lines between them might be blurred. Morgan had not occurred to him. and more bitterly Just imagine if you saw my face. Then you would know what fear was and you would think it was pity. it's jsut too short to develop as many themes as he seems to be striving for here - loneliness, child abuse, terrible families, inherited guilt and secrets, the victims and violence of war, vanity and the shame of disfigurement, the possibility of love. and morgan is such a dissociative character, there's always the question of he is passive and incurious to a degree that is so pronounced that he is essentially a flat stock character instead of a participant. which is fine in an allegory or a fairy tale, but i think this is meant to be something more than that. i dunno - all i can do is repeat morgan's line from the opening of this review: "It seems I'm doomed always to miss the point." **************************************************** i guess we should just go ahead and call 2015 "the year karen stopped liking books." come to my blog!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    In a large estate... secluded from town, lives Morgan Fletcher .... disfigured... But why? From birth? An accident? Just how ugly is this man? These were questions I was curious from the start. We learn soon enough that Morgan avoids looking into mirrors...( just having them around his 'huge mansion' is the best way to avoid looking at himself). His housekeeper, Engel, lives at the house. --- He also develops a close friendship with his town doctor who begins to be at the house daily, at first spen In a large estate... secluded from town, lives Morgan Fletcher .... disfigured... But why? From birth? An accident? Just how ugly is this man? These were questions I was curious from the start. We learn soon enough that Morgan avoids looking into mirrors...( just having them around his 'huge mansion' is the best way to avoid looking at himself). His housekeeper, Engel, lives at the house. --- He also develops a close friendship with his town doctor who begins to be at the house daily, at first spending lots of time in the library room. Later, he takes his own room in the house. Morgan almost never leaves the house- not far - and not often. Sometimes he walks the grounds. One day, two children show up at the doorstep. Morgan is drawn to them. He takes them in... and allows them freedom to explore & play anywhere in the house.. no rooms are off limits. Where did these children come from? ( at this point ... I was beginning to read the rest of the storymore like a fairy tale- dark-a little bleak- creepy- sad- but aware of the gothic aura feelings. More children arrive... Now the doctor gets attached to the children..., Soon it feels as if Morgan and Dr. Crane have conspired together....to keep them sheltered... hiding the truth the the authorities that children are even in the house. So... ......we are wondering if these children are going to be discovered - and if so... what will happen to them? ....and how in the world do you think a story like this ends? .... I had to think about the ending a long time. Like in all fairy tales... (Like this one one seemed to me ... in some ways like Roald Dahl)...there are messages to take away. .....I thought about cruel treatment to children ... and the suffering which can follow into their adulthood .... I thought about acceptance - and love...( be prepare to get the creepy-willies..but this is a good book: strange 'rocks')! Thank you to Scibner publishing, Netgalley, and Charles Lambert for the allowing me inside Morgan's estate. Gotta go find a mirror now! Ha! :)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Morgan, a lonely recluse lies alone on his family's vast estate. He is grossly disfigured, and has lives here for most of his life. Estranged from his sister, who he has not seen since she was nine and sent away to school. A Mrs. Engel has recently been sent, by his sister he supposes, to take care of him. How he was disfigured and what business his family makes their money in is a big part of the story. Soon children of all ages begin appearing, they all accept Morgan as he is, but who are thes Morgan, a lonely recluse lies alone on his family's vast estate. He is grossly disfigured, and has lives here for most of his life. Estranged from his sister, who he has not seen since she was nine and sent away to school. A Mrs. Engel has recently been sent, by his sister he supposes, to take care of him. How he was disfigured and what business his family makes their money in is a big part of the story. Soon children of all ages begin appearing, they all accept Morgan as he is, but who are these children and where did they come from.? Didn't know what was going on throughout this story. Well told with a subtle menace, this is just strange and eerie enough to entice. I actually liked just sinking into the atmosphere, going where the story was going to take me wherever that was. Since I could never have guessed where this was going I was very glad I did. Did I say strange? The ending has many different interpretations, nothing is positively defined but open to the readers own opinions. The children will have a huge impact on Morgan's life and change him for the better. ARC from Netgalley.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    While I must compliment the author for creating something fresh and original, his hard work was lost on me. The atmosphere was tense, but this is only useful if its actually leading somewhere. Maybe my reading experience was thrown off course by the general impropriety of a creepy old man with a house of children. In any case, the author made me feel like I was waiting for something. And then it was the ending. And I was still standing at the bus stop eying the horizon for my ride. As it were. S While I must compliment the author for creating something fresh and original, his hard work was lost on me. The atmosphere was tense, but this is only useful if its actually leading somewhere. Maybe my reading experience was thrown off course by the general impropriety of a creepy old man with a house of children. In any case, the author made me feel like I was waiting for something. And then it was the ending. And I was still standing at the bus stop eying the horizon for my ride. As it were. Still, thanks to Charles Lambert, Gallic Books, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This book was frustrating on soooo many levels. While it was reasonably well written, it didn’t make any sense and the ending was deeply unfulfilling. A graph of my enjoyment of this book over time would be a bell curve. I wasn’t sure at first and only carried on reading because it was incredibly short, then the middle showed lots of promise and seemed to be building to an interesting ending, then it all completely fell apart in the last quarter when it became apparent that nothing would be pro This book was frustrating on soooo many levels. While it was reasonably well written, it didn’t make any sense and the ending was deeply unfulfilling. A graph of my enjoyment of this book over time would be a bell curve. I wasn’t sure at first and only carried on reading because it was incredibly short, then the middle showed lots of promise and seemed to be building to an interesting ending, then it all completely fell apart in the last quarter when it became apparent that nothing would be properly explained and it would just end with some surrealist nonsense. I didn’t care about any of the characters at any point in the book either, they were all completely two dimensional, even Morgan. (view spoiler)[ The part where the children go to Rebecca’s factory was when I started to get really quite cross - I mean, it just didn’t make ANY SENSE. What were they doing in the factory? Why were they burying the children? I know it was meant to be some kind of an allegory to the holocaust but it was far too opaque for me to understand. Also, what were the children? Were they ghosts? I feel like the author tried to pack in way too many things. At first you think the book is set in ‘real life’, albeit in a nondescript time period and country, but it turns out that it’s in some kind of parallel universe/fantasy world and ALSO that the children are ghosts who were killed in a concentration camp? This is just too much. For a book to be enjoyable there needs to be some cohesive internal structure and this book lacked it. (hide spoiler)] Also (and this one got me straight away), what’s with the subtitles for each chapter which tell you what’s going to happen? The first chapter is titled ‘Chapter One: in which Morgan explains the living daylights and the children begin to arrive’; the second is titled ‘Chapter Two: in which Engel chooses a room’. I know that this isn’t by any means the first time that this ‘device’ has been used, but it’s only with this book that it really grated on me. For me, it doesn’t work because the chapters are really short and, perhaps more importantly the facts that are chosen to illustrate each chapter are reeeeaally dull and forgettable . It just seems deeply pretentious and it instantly rang alarm bells for me. So, overall, bit of a shambles, which is a shame because the cover is gorgeous.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Morgan is a recluse, living a lonely and empty life in his sprawling family home. At first, all we know about him is that he is disfigured in some way - his face so shocking that he refuses to have mirrors in his house. Then Engel turns up; a housekeeper that Morgan assumes his sister, Rebecca, has arranged to send. Finally, children mysteriously begin to appear at the house. Without explanation, they arrive and are taken in and cared for. When one of the children become ill, Engel calls in Doct Morgan is a recluse, living a lonely and empty life in his sprawling family home. At first, all we know about him is that he is disfigured in some way - his face so shocking that he refuses to have mirrors in his house. Then Engel turns up; a housekeeper that Morgan assumes his sister, Rebecca, has arranged to send. Finally, children mysteriously begin to appear at the house. Without explanation, they arrive and are taken in and cared for. When one of the children become ill, Engel calls in Doctor Crane, who befriends Morgan and who virtually becomes another member of the household. Much of this novel is unexplained at first and we only gradually come to understand the history of the characters. We know Morgan is physically disfigured, but not how or why. We gradually realise that this is an alternative reality to the world we are familiar with – outside the walls of the house, the world is perceived as dangerous and unsafe. However, the world is about to intrude on Morgan, when men from the, rather sinister , Ministry of Welfare appear, asking about the children rumoured to be at the house. This is a difficult book to review. I really enjoyed the beginning of the novel – discovering Morgan’s story and meeting the characters. The children are really quite creepy with the eldest, David, seeming to be their leader. I liked this role reversal, as Morgan turns from protector to finding he begins to question why the children have appeared and what they want from him. However, once the book gets going I found that the middle and ending seemed rather rushed and that I had too many questions once I had finished. For me it was a book of two halves, with the beginning really reeling me in, but an unsatisfactory ending. Beautifully written, this is almost like a fairy tale and is certainly an interesting idea. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Suffer the little children... Morgan was a beautiful young man but a terrible incident has left him so horribly disfigured he can no longer face the world. So he stays holed up in the house his grandfather built while his sister runs the family business that keeps them both wealthy. The only person Morgan lets see him is his housekeeper, Engel. But one day Engel finds a baby left outside the house. The two of them agree not to tell the authorities and so the child becomes part of the household. S Suffer the little children... Morgan was a beautiful young man but a terrible incident has left him so horribly disfigured he can no longer face the world. So he stays holed up in the house his grandfather built while his sister runs the family business that keeps them both wealthy. The only person Morgan lets see him is his housekeeper, Engel. But one day Engel finds a baby left outside the house. The two of them agree not to tell the authorities and so the child becomes part of the household. Shortly after, another child arrives, then another, until before long there are seven of them... and more keep coming. No-one knows where they're coming from and the children never say, but Morgan is becoming convinced that these children have the power to appear and disappear at will. And soon it seems as if they've come for a purpose... This book is brilliantly written. Mostly it's in the third person and past tense, though there is a first person section when Morgan tells the story of his past. It reads like a kind of corrupted fairytale, perhaps Beauty and the Beast, and reminded me strongly of Shirley Jackson's similar corruption of the old witch stories in We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Not because of any similarity in story, but because of the unsettling tone of horror lurking beneath a seemingly bright surface. The children are unnaturally well-behaved, even the babies, and unlike adults can accept Morgan's disfigurement without being repulsed or pitying him. When one of the children becomes ill, the local doctor pays a visit and befriends Morgan, telling him a little of the world outside Morgan's walls. It's through this that the reader gets an indication that something terrible has happened to the world – something hugely destructive that has left people in fear and caused the rich to retreat behind heavily guarded walls. I'm not going to say any more about the story since the not knowing is most of what creates the tension and rising apprehension. There are parts that are truly shocking and the writing is of such quality as to create some images that stay long after the last page has been turned. There are strong shades of John Wyndham here – I was reminded not only of the Midwich Cuckoos, but also of Chocky and The Chrysalids to a degree. Again, that's not to imply any lack of originality – Lambert takes similar themes as Wyndham but treats them quite differently. It's unclear whether these children's purpose is to do good or evil in the world – there is a driven amorality about them. They are here to do what they must do and that's all. Should they be loved? Or feared? Is it sci-fi? Horror? Fantasy? Lit-fic? Yes, to all of the above. It's the first book for a long time that has had me gasping aloud in shock... Lambert does not tie it all up neatly in the end – he leaves it beautifully vague allowing the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks. As a result, I expect it will be a different story for each reader – I was very aware that I was 'writing' my own interpretation of events under the author's subtle guidance. After the horrors, is there any kind of redemption? Perhaps, perhaps not – it's one that left me pondering and I still haven't completely decided. Don't let the horrors or the sci-fi elements put you off. This is a great read that packs a lot into its relatively short length of 224 pages – one of the most imaginative and original books I've read in a while. Highly recommended – I shall be looking out for more from this author. 4½ stars for me, so rounded up. NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Scribner. www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erin Clemence

    What a disappointment. I expected such great things from this book- the cover was intriguing, the story was described as a neo-Gothic, psychological horror, with comparisons to “The Chronicles of Narnia” (after reading this novel, I was insulted by this comparison) and “The Golden Compass”. Being such a small novel, from an author I hadn’t heard of before, I thought it would be a surprising little treat. Alas…. “The Children’s Home”, by Charles Lambert, tells the story of Morgan- a man who has be What a disappointment. I expected such great things from this book- the cover was intriguing, the story was described as a neo-Gothic, psychological horror, with comparisons to “The Chronicles of Narnia” (after reading this novel, I was insulted by this comparison) and “The Golden Compass”. Being such a small novel, from an author I hadn’t heard of before, I thought it would be a surprising little treat. Alas…. “The Children’s Home”, by Charles Lambert, tells the story of Morgan- a man who has been left disfigured after a horrible accident. Morgan lives in a sprawling estate with only his housekeeper, a complete hermit with no connections to the outside world, until one day children begin to show up at his door. They appear to have no family, and Morgan quickly bonds with them, however it is evident from the beginning that these children have something special about them, and Morgan’s home becomes a safe refuge from the dangerous outside world and those strange and powerful people who seek out the children. The novel itself started off wonderfully, and I was immediately intrigued. However, the story line quickly loses its lustre and eventually just starts to get strange. Without giving away spoilers (in case for some reason you are terribly bored and desperate and this is the only novel you have near you to read), this novel had such promise, and really didn’t live up to its potential. I was confused throughout most of the novel, as it appeared that some massive plot lines had been skipped (I re-read several parts to ensure I hadn’t missed any of the plot- as the story was very choppy and disjointed), and the novel’s “strangeness” was not at all appealing or intriguing, but overall, just completely strange and puzzling. Morgan is a creative character who was not developed fully as he should’ve been, and he was mis-appropriated to this lacklustre novel. I would’ve liked to see him used fully, in another novel where the plot line was as interesting as his character. Beyond Morgan, I found the doctor very boring and whiny, and David was an arrogant little know-it-all who was not at all likable. Overall, I expected far more from this novel that I got. The storyline could’ve gone into so many other directions that would have been entertaining and even spooky, but it fell flat.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shanslip

    Wow. I was so happy to read other reviews that reassured me I hadn't lost my mind or my intelligence! This book starts out interesting but quickly descends into confusion then goes absolutely nowhere (or everywhere). A quick read, at about 3 hours, I don't know who the audience is meant to be but at 56 I enjoy the YA and some childrens books, sci fi, suspense, just about anything that isn't all sex or romance. I kept reading, hoping I would get it, and then it was over. There is no sense of time o Wow. I was so happy to read other reviews that reassured me I hadn't lost my mind or my intelligence! This book starts out interesting but quickly descends into confusion then goes absolutely nowhere (or everywhere). A quick read, at about 3 hours, I don't know who the audience is meant to be but at 56 I enjoy the YA and some childrens books, sci fi, suspense, just about anything that isn't all sex or romance. I kept reading, hoping I would get it, and then it was over. There is no sense of time or place, no history, very little sense of who anyone was and no discernable storyline. I saw many opportunities for storylines but none got further than that. On a positive note, the book was a good size and layout for these eyes to read; the font was clean, large enough to read while allowing more than a few sentences on the page and I found no typos! Having been an insatiable reader since age four, this is my first official review. Don't know if I did it correctly or not and I truly do wish I could find something better to say.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    This is a gothic fairytale with very dark themes running throughout the story. It is an unsettling short read that feels very much like a series of surreal paintings with striking imagery. Morgan Fletcher, isolated and disfigured, lives in a remote mansion. Engel, his housekeeper appears from nowhere. Children start appearing and come to live in the rambling house. They appear to have a curious knowledge of Morgan and his history. A doctor comes and eventually ends up residing. The children star This is a gothic fairytale with very dark themes running throughout the story. It is an unsettling short read that feels very much like a series of surreal paintings with striking imagery. Morgan Fletcher, isolated and disfigured, lives in a remote mansion. Engel, his housekeeper appears from nowhere. Children start appearing and come to live in the rambling house. They appear to have a curious knowledge of Morgan and his history. A doctor comes and eventually ends up residing. The children start to disappear into the hidden rooms in the house. Sinister characters come calling at the mansion. The book is infused with a ghostly and menacing atmosphere. Charles Lambert deploys beautiful prose. It is a novel of secrets, family horrors, guilt and abuse where the outside world is a fearful entity. I loved the story, but felt it was too short, given the huge themes running through it. Many thanks to Scribner, the publishers for a copy of the book via netgalley.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Uh...ok. So I feel like this book was trying to combine Every Heart a Doorway, Neil Gaiman, and Chuck Palahniuk and failed miserably. Attempts to be multiple scrissed genres and didn’t quite make it in any. Not fluid or coherent. I feel like it should have left me wowed and mystified, instead I just felt irritated and let down. Basically this had a ton of potential to be amazing and fell short.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Toria

    Nope this wasn't my cup of tea. Like always the premise drove me in but the novel it self didn't deliver. Feel it was to short to make a real inpakt, maybe it could have in better. Nope this wasn't my cup of tea. Like always the premise drove me in but the novel it self didn't deliver. Feel it was to short to make a real inpakt, maybe it could have in better.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    3.5 Stars Wow. I don't know what I just read, but it was weird. I loved the writing and the characters but I think perhaps I missed the point. I picked up on some of the themes and ideas but this book was probably one of the most bizarre stories I've read. It was haunting, atmospheric and eerie, and those are things I love in books. The tone reminded me of "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson. But in the end it was just too convoluted and confusing to speak to me. I definitely n 3.5 Stars Wow. I don't know what I just read, but it was weird. I loved the writing and the characters but I think perhaps I missed the point. I picked up on some of the themes and ideas but this book was probably one of the most bizarre stories I've read. It was haunting, atmospheric and eerie, and those are things I love in books. The tone reminded me of "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson. But in the end it was just too convoluted and confusing to speak to me. I definitely need to talk with someone about this!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive)

    Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com I've been postponing this review for weeks now because basically I still don't know what to say about it. It was by far one of the weirdest books I've ever read. But not in the weird way that I usually quite like. No, I was wondering for almost the entire book if I wasn't somehow missing what was going on and what the purpose of the complete story was. Morgan lives secluded from the world in his big house together with a bunch of childre Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com I've been postponing this review for weeks now because basically I still don't know what to say about it. It was by far one of the weirdest books I've ever read. But not in the weird way that I usually quite like. No, I was wondering for almost the entire book if I wasn't somehow missing what was going on and what the purpose of the complete story was. Morgan lives secluded from the world in his big house together with a bunch of children and a doctor, but while you get the feeling something is wrong right from the start, it doesn't really progresses from me. I didn't enjoy reading it. I never really got into the story, and for most of the time I was just waiting for something to happen. Like I said, I felt like I was missing the point of the book and the ending felt weird, even after the rest of the book. I'm sure there are people who will like this book, but I myself can not recommend it. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    I really like this novel . I recommend this novel for fans of The Bone Clocks I really like this novel . I recommend this novel for fans of The Bone Clocks

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Notaro

    Um.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Fitzpatrick

    I missed the point of this book, I just didn’t get it. A disfigured man, a mansion, and mysterious children sounded like it was going to be a very interesting story. I found this very disturbing at times and even found the children not so like-able. Just not my cup of tea.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I picked this book up at the library knowing nothing about it, and barely put it down again. I came to Goodreads briefly to mark down that I was reading it, and I was pretty disheartened by the low ratings. I powered through, however, and I'm so glad I did. The fact that I enjoyed it so much in spite of this outside influence speaks volumes. I was never 100% sure what has happening in The Children's Home, but that didn't bother me. I had a ball trying to figure it out as I went. There are vague I picked this book up at the library knowing nothing about it, and barely put it down again. I came to Goodreads briefly to mark down that I was reading it, and I was pretty disheartened by the low ratings. I powered through, however, and I'm so glad I did. The fact that I enjoyed it so much in spite of this outside influence speaks volumes. I was never 100% sure what has happening in The Children's Home, but that didn't bother me. I had a ball trying to figure it out as I went. There are vague and not-so-vague spoilers ahead, so watch out. I picked up on the Holocaust imagery early, but I was about as confident in my interpretation as I was in my perceived romantic charge between Morgan and Doctor Crane. It turned out I was right on both counts, so maybe some of my enjoyment came from getting to see my assumptions unfurl. I have no idea if it was deliberate or not, but the Fletcher name and logo, paired with the sun setting in the east and rising in the west, immediately put me in mind of Martin Amis' novel Time's Arrow. But maybe I already had Holocaust on the brain, and I'm reaching too much. Briefly, toward the end of the novel, when the children rose up to save themselves from government-sanctioned, mechanized slaughter, I thought I'd stumbled my way into pro-life propaganda. I've since mostly shaken that feeling, but it definitely made for some interesting reading at the time. As it stands, my interpretation is mostly informed by something Crane says at the very end: I was looking at them [the maps] a few days ago, before we went out in the car, and it set me thinking about those books we were given to read as children, about travelers and shipwrecked sailors? How they found themselves in strange lands? Magical lands where time went backwards or animals spoke their language? But they weren't strange or magical to the people who lived there, were they? The people who lived there were normal. How formless it all is until an outsider gives it sense...The children. They came out of thin air, that's what you said, isn't it? They came to do something we weren't expected, or entitled, to understand. I don't think they understood what they had to do themselves. And then David grew up somehow, so quickly, and it all fell into place. And now, here we are. We are what's left. The children are from our world, traveling to a strange and magical land where time does move backwards (that sun though), and there's been some nameless, mysterious revolution, and children are sunk into the ground like turnips to power factories. But at the same time Persia is a place, and French is a language, and The Death of Sardanapalus is a painting. I imagine it's a lot like Lyra's world in Philip Pullman's novels, but with a touch so light you might miss it. I think I found myself reaching for the pro-life allegory (also briefly at war with some kind of Marxist, pro-worker allegory) because the imagery and plot came on so fast at the end, it felt like it all had to mean something. And maybe it does. Maybe I'm completely missing the mark. But now that I'm finished, I don't think the scene in the factory meant something in such concrete terms. Just to be perfectly clear, I think the children and Engel were killed by the Nazis in our world, and whether by accident or fate, they were transported to an alternate plane where they helped overthrow a warped, Nazi-esque regime. I think it's no mistake that David was so interested in "power," or that he and Morgan had trouble reconciling the two meanings of the word. In our world, the children were powerless. In this world, they were able to wrench power away from the factory which, in turn, derived physical power from subjugating the weak. And honestly, I think that's beautiful. I adored this book. I think I read the final 85% this afternoon -- I found myself compelled to keep reading in a way I haven't experienced in a long time. I found it to be the perfect balance of mystery and obfuscation with attainable unraveling and interpretation. As soon as I finished I found myself flipping through to reread passages. I'm tempted to read it again. And I never read things again. I'm really disheartened at the number of low ratings here. I'm so glad I didn't look this one up before checking it out, or I never would have read it. Maybe this is a sign that I need to break away from Goodreads for a while and follow my heart. It's what the children would want.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anja

    This started out with such great atmosphere and then sadly ended in a bunch of disappointment for me. I love character driven ambiguous stories, but this novel tried to fit "too many" genres and ideas into one short book. This started out with such great atmosphere and then sadly ended in a bunch of disappointment for me. I love character driven ambiguous stories, but this novel tried to fit "too many" genres and ideas into one short book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    "The Children's House" is a dark and intriguing tale that begins when abandoned children begin appearing at Morgan Fletcher's country estate, a man disfigured from an accident that's left him psychologically scarred, ashamed and withdrawn. Isolated from society because he sees himself as a monster, Morgan lives with his housekeeper Engel when abandoned children begin turning up on his kitchen step. Longing for the warmth of affection and acceptance he gravitates to these youngsters giving them t "The Children's House" is a dark and intriguing tale that begins when abandoned children begin appearing at Morgan Fletcher's country estate, a man disfigured from an accident that's left him psychologically scarred, ashamed and withdrawn. Isolated from society because he sees himself as a monster, Morgan lives with his housekeeper Engel when abandoned children begin turning up on his kitchen step. Longing for the warmth of affection and acceptance he gravitates to these youngsters giving them the run of the mansion and never chastising them, although he suspects there is something odd about their behaviour. When they begin finding weird objects in the attics in the mansion and disappear as if they never existed when the Ministry of Welfare shows up looking into rumours that he's harbouring children. Morgan begins to look for answers to the puzzle. But Morgan is not alone in his search for the truth. Dr. Crane the local doctor called in when two of the younger children have fevers not only finds rapport with the disfigured recluse but is mesmerized by the peculiar behaviour of the children. Getting to know Morgan while playing backgammon with him, Dr. Crane not only begins to anchor him to the outside world, but observes children who learn to read from medical books and seem to have an unspoken plan they're about to put into motion. Charles Lambert quickly grips the reader in a dark, psychological fantasy that revolves around a wealthy loner scarred not only physically but emotionally, and a mysterious group of abandoned children who begin appearing on his doorstep; some who seem to emerge out of thin air. The mood of this innovative story is secretive, uncertain and ominous, although the interaction of the children and Morgan stirs hope and promise with the warmth of their love and acceptance. Frightening as tension percolates with the mystery of Morgan's past and the children's plan which connect in surprising ways, this dark contemporary fairy-tale progresses smoothly and quickly to a shocking ending that leaves the reader breathless. Enriching an emotionally-charged drama that vibrates with intensity and suspense are unforgettable and complex characters. Morgan Fletcher maimed by the selfishness and irresponsibility of his wealthy parents is scarred in a tragic confrontation. Ashamed , fearing rejection he isolates himself from society in a mansion surrounded by a high wall far from town where he suffers from nightmares and paranoia. Intelligent, considerate and kind he gravitates to the children, Engel, and Dr. Crane who offer love, friendship and unconditional acceptance. Dr. Crane is the trustworthy, determined and caring local physician who offers the withdrawn Morgan loyalty and companionship, while the enigmatic housekeeper Engel is strong-willed and brusque, yet gentle and patient. Of the children Daisy is cautious, mild-mannered and the most normal; Melissa determined and grown-up; and David the most mysterious with his need to learn to read, his leadership and adult manner towards Morgan. As events unfold, the children seem to grow and mature, becoming more assertive and aggressive. "The Children's House" is a fascinating story where Morgan steps out of the tragedy of his past and away from the handicap that seems to define him with every brave action he takes, and in the end finds healing. This is a brilliantly crafted piece of storytelling that I couldn't put down until the end.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dawnie

    Okay I think most of this book just went over my head with its completely cryptic writing and never actually getting to a point. I mean I read the thing and have no idea at all what this book was actually about. Did it have a point? A direct story that was told? Was there an actual story line and plot that I just missed? Still for some strange reason after I finished the thing it was very enjoyable to me. I mean didn't get me wrong this story is not horrible. The guy and his big house where all o Okay I think most of this book just went over my head with its completely cryptic writing and never actually getting to a point. I mean I read the thing and have no idea at all what this book was actually about. Did it have a point? A direct story that was told? Was there an actual story line and plot that I just missed? Still for some strange reason after I finished the thing it was very enjoyable to me. I mean didn't get me wrong this story is not horrible. The guy and his big house where all of a sudden people literally appear out of thin air to, basically fill his empty house up. And the writing is pretty good, remind some a bit of the writing of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in some ways. Maybe because I felt similarly lost throughout the whole story? Or I just really did not really get the entire point of the entire thing? No idea. Still the writing keeps you reading even while scratching your head and not really getting what is happening or why the heck the stuff is happening and asking yourself why all the "psychological" books I am reading currently are making me question my own senses more then be horrified by the book itself. But maybe that is what the books are all about actually? Because then, well done! I have no idea what was going on and where I got lost! All in all for me this book was a good short-story collection more then a full blown "fit together perfectly" kind of book. But it was not bad. The writing was pretty great as I said actually! Just confusing. But if you are someone that likes strange books, that are a bit freaky and creepy and honesty never explain a freaking think: TADA search no more! *Thanks to NetGand the publishers as well as the author who gave me the ARC copy for free to review in exchange for a honest review. (And hey if you want to send me an a road guide as well that would be appreachiated as well, maybe then when I read it again I won't get as completely lost again, thanks :) )

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

    This book was way out of my normal genres that I read. So I wasn't sure what to expect. This was an interesting read, it was a bit odd it didn't quite make a lot of sense in places, but then again it could just be me. I understood that Morgan was born a beautiful child and was kept away from everyone, then he was tragically disfigured and became a total reclusive. I understand why he was disfigured, that I got, but I have to admit the grandfather's role and what all was up with these mysterious c This book was way out of my normal genres that I read. So I wasn't sure what to expect. This was an interesting read, it was a bit odd it didn't quite make a lot of sense in places, but then again it could just be me. I understood that Morgan was born a beautiful child and was kept away from everyone, then he was tragically disfigured and became a total reclusive. I understand why he was disfigured, that I got, but I have to admit the grandfather's role and what all was up with these mysterious children kept me baffled. I'm still wondering if I missed something crucial that must have tied them all together. I don't want to go into too much detail because it would be spoilers. I would like to thank Scribner and NetGalley for providing me with an e-galley copy of this book to read and review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jaylynny

    Hmmm. Okay, I'll give it a go: ooh, deliciously creepy to blah blah blah to what in the actual fuck to blah blah blah to aw that's sad. Some piercing visual imagery but ultimately a let down with faint murmurings of ideas of forgiveness, loving others and oneself as roads to salvation. Plus an unwanted mental image of the Harry Potter mandrake. Hmmm. Okay, I'll give it a go: ooh, deliciously creepy to blah blah blah to what in the actual fuck to blah blah blah to aw that's sad. Some piercing visual imagery but ultimately a let down with faint murmurings of ideas of forgiveness, loving others and oneself as roads to salvation. Plus an unwanted mental image of the Harry Potter mandrake.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    Odd and fairytale-like, The Children's Home is a strange dream of a story. So many things about it are non-specific: the country and time period it's set in always remain blurry; there is little context to anything; the characters accept peculiar and fantastical events with barely a flinch. In the most simple terms it's about a man called Morgan, who lives a cloistered life in his vast, walled manor; having been disfigured in an accident, the circumstances of which are not immediately made clear Odd and fairytale-like, The Children's Home is a strange dream of a story. So many things about it are non-specific: the country and time period it's set in always remain blurry; there is little context to anything; the characters accept peculiar and fantastical events with barely a flinch. In the most simple terms it's about a man called Morgan, who lives a cloistered life in his vast, walled manor; having been disfigured in an accident, the circumstances of which are not immediately made clear, he no longer ventures into the outside world, which is in any case described as war-torn and ravaged. One day, children start to appear on his estate. And they keep appearing, until there is a whole group of them - precocious, enigmatic, and with the apparent ability to disappear back into thin air whenever they need to. Morgan cares for the children along with his housekeeper, Engel (another person who mysteriously appeared at the house one day and simply stayed there), and his doctor, Doctor Crane. There's no question of them leaving, no possibility that Morgan will hand them over to the government officials who conduct occasional inspections. Meanwhile, a boy named David emerges as their leader, commanding authority over not only the other children but Morgan too. As the story progresses, it edges further into the realm of fantasy and fable; I would be reluctant to actually describe it as horror, but there is certainly a hint of that too, especially in the climactic scenes. Macabre details - for example an intricate model of a pregnant woman which can be 'opened' to see the baby inside the womb - make certain parts of the story particularly eerie and therefore memorable. The Children's Home has an unusually low average rating on Goodreads; it seems the lack of explanation and vagueness of the whole story have ruined it for many readers, and I can understand that - it does rather fall apart, as both fantasy and allegory, if you think about it too much. I'm not sure why that didn't bother me. All I can say is that I found the story enchanting enough that I was happy to fall under its spell and accept all its oddness.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    Bizarre. Morgan Fletcher is hiding from the world due to his 'spoiled' face. The reader knows there was some sort of terrible accident that has Morgan living a reclusive life in his family estate allowing his sister, whom he is somewhat estranged from, in full charge of the family business without him. What exactly that family business is that allows him to live in such a lavish home is a mystery. As he lurks in shadows due to his disfigurement, children mysteriously appear as if from thin air s Bizarre. Morgan Fletcher is hiding from the world due to his 'spoiled' face. The reader knows there was some sort of terrible accident that has Morgan living a reclusive life in his family estate allowing his sister, whom he is somewhat estranged from, in full charge of the family business without him. What exactly that family business is that allows him to live in such a lavish home is a mystery. As he lurks in shadows due to his disfigurement, children mysteriously appear as if from thin air seeking refuge in his home. Something is not right about them, smarter than most, and eerily silent when not seen- anyone with a brood of children knows children are rarely quiet. Who are they? Along with the children a mysterious woman, a caretaker of sorts attaches herself to his life, sent by his sister. A doctor soon becomes his confidant and spends most of his days with them all, also curious about the mysterious children. Men come to take the children away, they know Morgan is hiding them and it's wrong, illegal! Who are these men and what do they want with the children? What sinister plans do they have? Morgan will have to overcome his reclusive ways to seek out the truth and come to the children's rescue. A part of the novel I really enjoyed is the woman and fetus Morgan and the children discover, but I wanted her to have a more magical role- it would have really nailed the fairy tale aspect. I kept thinking of the famous mother goose nursery rhyme ' there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn't know what to do'. But these children are creepy, and the story inches along like a little book worm until the strange ending that still has me scratching my head. Lambert gives new meaning to children 'sprouting' as they grow up. It sticks, to be sure, but I myself still feel a bit stuck in the dirt wondering what I missed. I can't say I figured things out, and it frustrates me. I really did enjoy Lambert's Scent of Cinnamon written in 2008, I never wrote a review (I should revist it) He is a lovely writer. An odd gothic story.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    This book reads like a dream in the most literal sense of that, resplendent with strange beauty of narrative and dream logic of the plot. And for all that, to continue with the metaphor (or is it simile, since metaphor is an equation and simile is an approximation and I'm not quite sure which one applies here), much like a dream it seems somehow insubstantial, surreal and very odd. The basic story is that of a disfigured hermit whose reclusive lifestyle gets interrupted by children, dozens of th This book reads like a dream in the most literal sense of that, resplendent with strange beauty of narrative and dream logic of the plot. And for all that, to continue with the metaphor (or is it simile, since metaphor is an equation and simile is an approximation and I'm not quite sure which one applies here), much like a dream it seems somehow insubstantial, surreal and very odd. The basic story is that of a disfigured hermit whose reclusive lifestyle gets interrupted by children, dozens of them, randomly showing up to stay with him. It's actually all very intriguing because there's obviously something quite off about the situation and the reader tries to figure out what's going on, while getting lost in the spellbinding fairy tale for adults. It's only during the second half of it, when the explanations are starting to come to light, that the dream starts spinning out of control and you might want to wake up. Wake up with a major WTF was that as a first thought. Really. I'm a fairly adventurous and versatile reader, I've tried a variety of genres and some nontraditional narratives like bizarro and yet I still really do appreciate a coherent resolution to a story. This one is more of an interpretive one. Some allusions are made strongly enough to come through, some one can guess at or imagine. It's quite frustrating, because the book has so much potential and promise, to see it turn into something so ambiguously metaphysical. Very quick read, but ultimately not as satisfying as it might have been. Thanks Netgalley.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Keith Chawgo

    Lambert is an incredible writer with excellent character profiles that spark off the page. The plots are well devised and intriguing that keeps the writer entranced as they work the puzzle of why the children are showing up and what exactly is the reasoning behind this. His detention to detail and descriptive passages are extremely rich with incredible detail. The dark fairy tale plot devise is well used and carries the plot forward to its conclusion. This is unfortunately where the book lets its Lambert is an incredible writer with excellent character profiles that spark off the page. The plots are well devised and intriguing that keeps the writer entranced as they work the puzzle of why the children are showing up and what exactly is the reasoning behind this. His detention to detail and descriptive passages are extremely rich with incredible detail. The dark fairy tale plot devise is well used and carries the plot forward to its conclusion. This is unfortunately where the book lets itself down with an uneven conclusion that is more puzzling than the mystery that steers the plot. It felt that the author had become tied up with the plot that he wasn't quite sure what to do about the conclusion. It's a shame as if the conclusion answered some of the mysteries that it presented, this would have easily been a five star book but do to the conclusion difficulties, it unfortunately settles down to a three star. Shame, because if it an answered just a few of the questions it raised, this would have been a solid winner.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    A fascinating, creepy, eerie, ominous story that never really becomes more than the sum of its parts. The Dahl comparisons are apt (or at least they are to my terrified half-memories of THE WITCHES), but there's also a LORD OF THE FLIES-vibe permeating the whole novel that creeped me the hell out. There's a lot of playful experimentation going on here as well, and it both genuinely unsettled and surprised me at several points, but I'm not sure what to make of it all by the end of it. Originality A fascinating, creepy, eerie, ominous story that never really becomes more than the sum of its parts. The Dahl comparisons are apt (or at least they are to my terrified half-memories of THE WITCHES), but there's also a LORD OF THE FLIES-vibe permeating the whole novel that creeped me the hell out. There's a lot of playful experimentation going on here as well, and it both genuinely unsettled and surprised me at several points, but I'm not sure what to make of it all by the end of it. Originality goes a long way in my books, but the twisted fairy tale at the heart of this clouds any emotional connection to the characters, and the book suffers for it. I feel bad for giving this only three stars, because I loved the writing and the chances it took, and I'll definitely read the next book by this author, but I can only give it the qualified recommendation I've outlined above.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    I read this as part of my big horror binge but while it's gothic-adjacent it doesn't really fit into the horror category. There's some horror trappings, sure, but not much here is designed to scare or even creep you out. What it does feel is all slightly wrong, a little skewed and off-kilter. I enjoy books that unsettle you, but if you don't this may not be a good book for you. All around you in this book there are echoes of tropes you've seen before. An isolated man in a big country house, a pre I read this as part of my big horror binge but while it's gothic-adjacent it doesn't really fit into the horror category. There's some horror trappings, sure, but not much here is designed to scare or even creep you out. What it does feel is all slightly wrong, a little skewed and off-kilter. I enjoy books that unsettle you, but if you don't this may not be a good book for you. All around you in this book there are echoes of tropes you've seen before. An isolated man in a big country house, a preternaturally wise child, a physical deformity with a tragic backstory, etc. But nothing here ever quite adds up. It is more about the feeling of these things than it is the reason for them. This book will not line up all these things to create order, it will just build weirdness on top of weirdness. In fact, my real critique is that it is a little too typical in its structure and doesn't just give itself over to that atmosphere, instead giving you an ending that feels far too normal for a book that's so unusual.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Uhhhh wut? Dafuq is this? Dafuq was that? I was excited by the premise, and the characters and the ambience. And then....the author lost me. And the plot. And the end, apparently. So, so bizarre. 2 stars, and a recommended remedial class in answering readers' unanswered questions. Uhhhh wut? Dafuq is this? Dafuq was that? I was excited by the premise, and the characters and the ambience. And then....the author lost me. And the plot. And the end, apparently. So, so bizarre. 2 stars, and a recommended remedial class in answering readers' unanswered questions.

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