Friday, 18 August 2017

Review | The House by Simon Lelic

Published by Penguin on August 17, 2017

The House by Simon Lelic is creepy and suspenseful. I was drawn to the book by its spookily inviting cover and the way the book begins gave off the same vibes to me – that you were welcome inside, if you dare. There are some great thriller and horror aspects deftly combined by Simon Lelic which had me fascinated as I never quite knew what to expect next. The House is a dark read, tense and at times uncomfortable, which had me gripped throughout.

In The House we meet Jack and Syd. They are at a busy house viewing in London and whilst Jack is not impressed by the place, it is clear to him that Syd is. She thinks it would be perfect for them and so they put in an offer. Despite it not being the best offer, they’re chosen to get the place – and they begin to sort their way through all the belongings the previous owner left behind. That’s where all the creepiness really starts to set in, and a gruesome discovery in the attic beckons…

The author had me hooked straight away, even though I was unsure about how the narrative would be told. Almost in diary form, the chapters begin split between both Jack and Syd as they tell us their views on the house and what’s going on, although it doesn’t feel like they’re telling the reader, it feels like they’re telling each other (just without the speech marks). They go back and forth quite a bit as some of the things they document mean going back in time so we can see the relevancy and how it connects to their situation living in the house. I’ve said so many times on the blog how I’m not overly keen on books told in a diary-style format as I often find them too one-sided and can’t get myself involved in the book enough if it’s told like that. However, as here we get to see both Jack and Syd’s perspectives, and the writing itself is quite convincing, I actually found that The House felt like it had something fresh and different to offer in comparison to many other books out there at the moment and so I enjoyed it more than I expected.

There’s so much about this book I can’t talk about because everything’s a spoiler. I will say that there are many twists and turns to keep you on your toes and this book does having something of a shock factor about it. In their own way, both Jack and Syd have something of an unreliable narrator about them and there is tension between the two of them as cracks in their relationship begin to show. The House was not really what I expected at all, though this isn’t a bad thing. It had originality and a style of writing that was engaging and easy to invest in. I did prefer the earlier scene-setting of the book probably the most, although the twists had me engrossed. I did find, though, that I was waiting for another twist whereas normally I prefer the story to lead me into a misguided sense of comfort, and then a twist strikes. I think the fact that this book didn’t appear like that to me was down to the different form of storytelling and so it can’t really be a criticism – I just really enjoyed the twists!

The House is a fascinating thriller. Though I didn’t love either Jack or Syd, I loved how the author crafted and developed his characters in a believable way. The characterisation in The House is great, as is the level of suspense and intrigue the author writes. Overall this really is an incredibly creepy read that made it a difficult book to put down and forget about. The author has written a clever and spooky tale, and I’m looking forward to reading more of his books in future.


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