2019 Favourite Book Alert!
Title: 17 Church Row
Author: James Carol
Date of publication: 14 November 2019
Publisher: Zaffre Books
Three years ago, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes suffered a devastating loss when their four-year-old daughter Grace was tragically killed in a road accident. Ethan, a radio personality, escapes into work, leaving Nikki to care for their remaining child, Bella, who hasn’t spoken since that day.
Seeking a fresh start, the family moves into a revolutionary new house designed by renowned architect, Catriona Fisher. The house features a state-of-the-art security system, along with every amenity you could dream of. For the Rhodes’ this is a chance to finally pick up the pieces and get on with their lives in a place where they feel totally safe.
But what if 17 Church Row isn’t the safe haven that they think it is?
Your home is your safe place. It is the place holding your memories, big and small. Your laughs, your tears, and your sick days have left an echo. A roof makes a house, people make a home.
Tragedy struck the Rhodes’ family, sweeping away one of their twin daughters. Her ghost now inhabits their family home, for better or for worse. How can you move on when every corner you check reminds you of who you’ve lost? But… Is a parent allowed to move on from such a thing? This string plays throughout the novel and my heart danced with it, a sad and melancholic dance in a thick fog, numbed by grief and a feeling of emptiness. The writing drew me in instantly.
Nikki is stuck in a limbo since Grace died. To give themselves a chance to heal, she and husband Ethan decide to move. 17 Church Row looks perfect. Shiny, all glass and light, and most of all, a smart assistant to make the owners’ life easier. What’s not to love?
Call me old-school, but Alexa & co won’t ever set foot in my home. I love how technology allows me to know about every subject, be connected to the entire world, and do my grocery shopping from my couch, but there are limits to the freedom I’m willing to give up on, the freedom needed for an artificial assistant to do what the control freak in me prefers to do herself! Like locking my door. I couldn’t suppress the uneasiness of knowing someone is watching you, even if only to tend to your needs. I talk to myself a lot, and I’d rather no one listened!!! It was easy to put myself in Nikki’s shoes and feel unsettled by the house’s voice’s constant presence. Watching your daughter interact with a computer instead of you is a disturbing image.
I can’t get enough of books exploring the notion of the place taken by technology in our everyday life. The right details gave me a precise image of what the author had created. I even caught myself feeling very curious about the house and Alice, the voice living with Nikki, Ethan, and Bella. Don’t we get used to anything? That doesn’t make it a good thing! Still, I understood Ethan’s need to protect his family with what could be seen as the safest house. Nothing can go wrong if an eye works 24/7 to make sure what’s most precious to you is looked after.
What began as an interesting take on our present soon turned out to be a full horror story. I mean it! My kind of horror. I don’t do zombies. I prefer it when things go terribly and realistically wrong. So wrong you want to close your eyes and pray the bookish gods to spare the characters’ lives. Reading 17 Church Row was immensely compelling and intensely scary.
James Carol has successfully layered his novel with the cold of technology and the heart of what makes us human. Each page narrowed the path between those separate worlds, and twists had my head run wild like a horse during a storm and my heart go up and down as if I were riding the biggest emotional elevator!
The architect behind the house uses the Rhodes’ family as an experiment, goldfish in a (pretty and convenient) bowl. I was both fascinated and horrified. As the tension escalated, my pulse went ride-or-die and hours passed by without me realizing!
17 Church Row is a spooky and dramatic novel that I highly recommend! What does it mean to be home? To be safe?
You can find the book on Amazon
A huge thank you to Tracy Fenton @CompulsiveReaders and Zaffre Books for inviting me to be part of this tour and providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.