Books & Reviews

Book Review: ‘The House’, by Simon Lelic

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2.5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review

Jack and Sydney have just bought their first house. They were shocked when they’re offer was accepted, especially considering how many people were at the viewing. But they don’t question it. The only catch is that they get all of the junk that the previous owner left in the house as well, but cleaning it all away is a small price to pay for their dream home.

But when Jack finds a strange box in the attic and hears noises during the night, he starts to wonder if there’s something more sinister going on in the house. And when a body turns up in the alley beside their house, the police start to wonder the same thing.

The House is an interesting thriller with a good premise. It’s told through diary-style entries alternating from Jack and Syd’s perspectives. They decide to write these memoir-esque entries when the strange happenings in the house become too much, and they want to have an account to show the police. In theory, this is an interesting way to write the story. In practice, though, not so much.

The main problem I had with it was the cliffhangers at the end of some sections. I know that it’s obviously done for the book’s effect, and to keep the reader reading. But in the universe of the book, where Syd and Jack are writing for the police, it doesn’t make any sense that they would end their sections the way they do. It’s not practical for what they want the diary to do. I guess it’s a stupid thing to have a problem with, but it just doesn’t feel authentic. There are plenty of books out there that use the diary format and manage to make the story both gripping and authentic. Unfortunately, The House just isn’t one of them.

I also felt like the plot itself was a little bit disconnected. There was a bit of a jump in the middle, between the first and second sections. Maybe it was just me not paying enough attention (I wasn’t really into the story so it did take me longer to read than a book normally would), but the way the story pans out isn’t explained well enough with the clues we’re given throughout. I don’t want to say too much in case I give anything away, but the photo on the wall and the box Jack finds in the attic aren’t explained satisfyingly enough for me. There’s too much of a jump where the reader is supposed to figure out what happened. It’s a small problem, and it probably wouldn’t be as much of an issue for everyone, but it irked me.

I was a little disappointed with the genre of The House, which I know is a stupid thing to be annoyed at, but hear me out. The book is called ‘The House’. It’s set in a creepy older house that’s full to the brim with the previous owner’s junk, including loads of stuffed animals (the taxidermy kind, not the cute and cuddly kind). Then Jack starts to hear strange noises at night and Syd feels someone touching her face that wasn’t Jack. At this point I thought I was in for a horror about a haunted house and I was excited. This is not a horror story. There are no ghosts or creepy dead things haunting this house. In fact, the house itself takes kind of a backseat as the story goes on. I know this shouldn’t annoy me that much because it was my own preconception of the genre that it didn’t live up to, but still, it’s not what I was looking forward to, so I was disappointed.

I realise I’ve shit all over this book a bit, but it wasn’t completely bad. It was a good read, not great, but good. The story was interesting, it kept me reading and I was curious to find out what was going to happen. The twist at the ending was a little bit predictable once you got to a certain point, but it was still enjoyable. I’d recommend The House if you’re looking for something in the thriller genre, but also isn’t going to make your blood pressure shoot sky high with tension.

The House is out on 17th August 2017

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