I would like to thank Penguin Books for providing me with a copy of The House in exchange for an honest review!
Title: The House
Author: Simon Lelic
Publisher: Penguin Books UK
Genre: Mystery, thriller
Date of publication: August 17th 2017
Number of pages: 340
What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?
The House. A simple and to the point title which never fails to intrigue crime and thriller fans like me. The synopsis finished to sell the book and a few seconds later, it was in my Kindle.
But. Yes, there is a but very early in this review. The story suffers from a “bad-blurb” syndrome. I am not blaming anyone for it, just stating a fact. See, because of my never-ending list of books, it actually took me quite a while to get to it, and by the time I clicked on the book, I had forgotten all about what was said in the blurb. I’m really happy about this! And if you’re familiar with my review post format, you now know why I did not include the synopsis. Yes, it contains SPOILERS. You know, the thing I’m allergic to? It did not hinder my reading because I had totally forgotten about it but as it’s now a new release, BE CAREFUL! I hope the publication and publicity about it since it became available hasn’t ruined it for you!
Now off to the book itself.
I like originality. I really do. But when you read books after books, you get lazy and your brain starts to be annoyed when it has to make an effort. Well, I say you, I mean me! The beginning of this story is told in a very unusual way through two different voices. I can’t say more without spoiling the fun, and with the problem discussed above, I think no one needs more party-poopers! I was slightly disturbed by the way things were introduced to me, and you might too, as a conversation with a fellow reader confirmed the opening did not put the reader into an easy position. You have to want to read this book to go through it. But I can assure you it IS worth it. Slowly, the author’s choice of narration and his perfectly mirroring and/or flowing chapters make sense as this story is everything but usual. I’d say the format matches the content, which is something I pay a close attention to and I was very satisfied to see the extent to which the Simon Lelic went to relate his vivid and realistic piece of fiction.
So, Syd and Jack get a house. It sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale. If you like your fairy tales dark, twisted, and absolutely sick! The characterization makes it very easy for you to get a picture of the protagonists and this book that reads as a ball going back and forth between the two parts of this couple gives you all you need to squeeze yourself between them and become a part of the story yourself. This requires you to make your own opinions, just like a friend listening to your best friend’s problems. You take some of their words for what they are, you might leave things out. You progress solely on their side of the story, and before you know it, there’s a bang and the book’s tone changes and puts you back into your witness seat, with no other choice than you hope for the best (if, like me, you grew fond of Syd and Jack and wish this kind of love was more present everywhere. That’s the romantic in me!) It’s abrupt, you don’t have the keys to the house, but you do have pieces of a puzzle except you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like! I adored being led this way, from what felt like an active read to a passive witnessing of recollections, memories, and their aftermath.
Perhaps the place you call home is something, once it’s been chosen for you, you don’t ever get to alter.
When I said this was a twisted story, I meant it. This book shows you the darkest cases of domestic abuse. If you don’t get angry reading it, you are not into the story! Harrowing events, manipulative moves, the right buttons pushed at the right time, what starts as a weird but interesting tale hides the deepest and darkest cuts people can inflict.
I only wish the psychological side had been explored deeper, I wanted reasons and answers, I got actions and reactions. It is not a bad thing, but I do believe everything would have had a bigger impact with more analysis. Still, there is more than enough for the tension to build like a fire at camp. Weak and tickling at first, getting hungry and taking more room as it absorbs what’s around it, and bursting at full blast at the end!
But who’s to say what constitutes a family anyway?
Now that I reread this review (the pleasure of proofreading!), I realize you still don’t know much about the book itself as I have been extremely vague. You can always check the official blurb on Goodreads. Please don’t. Here’s what you need to know: a nice couple finally gets their dream: a nice house in London. But everything comes with a price, and the seller might not be who you think, or want what you think.
Overall, The House offers an original writing style to a disturbing and complex story about how a house becomes a home. Or not. A fantastically gripping read!
You can find the book on Amazon and Barnes&Noble!