By Simon Lelic
Syd and Jack have found the perfect London home and are excited to have their offer accepted over all the others because the previous owner wanted it to go to a young couple.
Syd is smitten but Jack feels as if maybe it is too good to be true. His sense of unease only grows when he makes a gruesome discovery in the attic but he decides to hide the extent of his discovery from Syd because he doesn't want to ruin the house for her.
Later on, he regrets this when a body is discovered in the alley outside their house and the police are watching their every move.
When I finally got around to reading The House I did so reluctantly, after all the title didn’t exactly encourage the idea that it would be an interesting read. Luckily my first impressions were wrong.
Simon Lelic gives you everything you need to figure out the major twists in the book but they are so well hidden that I didn’t notice anything until I was rereading it for this review.
Jack and Syd have found the perfect London home, the only problem is that there are lots of other couples at the viewing who have the same thing going through their head.
Syd is head over heels in love with the house but Jack isn’t so sure. He knows Syd loves it though so he agrees to put an offer in even though their agreed mortgage doesn’t meet the asking price.
“I suppose all I’m saying is I didn’t like the place. All that junk, the building itself: it just felt wrong. The problem I had was that Syd was clearly smitten.”
When their offer is accepted because the owner wants a young couple to have it Syd is over the moon but Jack feels like it is all too good to be true. He doesn’t want to spoil it for Syd because he knows how important having a place she can call home is to Syd because of her tumultuous past.
Once they are in the house the sheen of having their own home soon begins to wear off as they begin to sort through the former owner’s junk which he left behind in the move.
Jack feels as though something isn’t quite right about the house and doesn’t quite buy the estate agents story that the previous owner had found love online and had run off to Australia or that the reason their offer was excepted over so many others was because the owner wanted a young couple to have it.
When an odd smell leads Jack to a gruesome discovery in the attic Jack realises his uneasy feelings may not be entirely unfounded.
Now it is a few months later, a body has been discovered and the police are watching the house. Jack and Syd are both having trouble sleeping. The once close couple are keeping secrets from each other and the stress of their situation is beginning to get to them both.
The House is written in the style of a journal with entries from the point of view of both Syd and Jack. One of the things I enjoyed about it the most was that the author showed the couple’s reactions to each other’s entries.
I enjoyed this writing style as it was something that I hadn’t encountered before. It was part written account, part conversation and because of this I felt that I identified with the protagonists much quicker.
I also liked the use of flashbacks to glean relevant information about the past of each of the characters and the things that happened in the months leading up to them deciding to write the journal-like entries.
Both characters are flawed and far from the perfect couple you would initially expect them to be. Syd has a lot of baggage from her upbringing, some of which she has kept from Jack. He knows that there was a history of abuse and that is why she no longer speaks to her parents but he doesn’t know everything that happened.Jack knows that she had a drug problem after she left home and that sometimes causes a bit of tension between them now especially as things in the house begin to escalate.I think Syd was my favourite character in The House because there was so much depth to her.
I felt like the character development was one of the major bonuses of the book and made it easier to understand some of the major twists because you know the background.
The House is much Darker than you would initially think and the sense of unease grows throughout. It isn’t a fast-paced book initially but I think that makes it all the more effective.
The reason I rated The House as a four and not a five is that I struggled to know what to rate it. I really enjoyed it and I didn’t want to put it down but there are times when the slow nature of the book was frustrating. Also, although I really did enjoy reading it and loved all the little twists it was one of the books that grips you while you are reading it but doesn’t keep hold once you have finished it.
Having said that, I would say that The House was a genuinely menacing read and one to watch out for.
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