Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.
The House by Simon Lelic is … not what I expected. It is about a couple, Jack and Syd, who move into what they think is their dream home. After all, the house is in a great location and has plenty of space for a family in the future. However, this all changes when Jack and Syd discover something grisly in the attic. Then, at night, Jack thinks he can hear people moving around inside. Then, someone is murdered right outside their home.
It took a while for me to get into this book.
The House begins with some first-person diary entries from both Jack and Syd. Seemingly, they share a diary because both characters write entries which consist almost entirely of quips and squabbles to their partner, as well as references to their partner’s other entries. Personally, I thought this format was a disappointing and confusing to begin a book. I didn’t learn anything in particular – apart from the fact that something bad had happened – and that Jack and Syd must enjoy writing argumentative messages for the other to read.
Then, the story finally begins.
Jack and Syd move into their new home and start finding odd things around the house, or hearing strange noises. Furthermore, they learn the owner was extraordinarily keen to sell his house but the real estate agents refuse to explain why. I liked this section because it created mystery and intrigue, and the house itself was very well described as dark, gloomy, and foreboding.
However, The House suddenly shifts completely in tone and genre from a potential paranormal or Gothic horror to a crime thriller. I don’t know if this was intended to be a shocking plot twist or not, but it just came across as a complete change in direction for seemingly no reason.
I still liked the crime thriller half of the novel. Some interesting things happened and, although I wasn’t completely blown away, it was enjoyable enough.
Ultimately, the main disappointment I had with The House was that I expected it to embrace the Gothic genre further, and it just didn’t. I don’t think these expectations were unfounded either.
The book is called The House yet, despite a title which is reminiscent of other Gothic works such as The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, the house in Lelic’s novel is really not that significant. Admittedly, there are some mysteries within to be uncovered but, really, the house seems more like a backdrop for the crimes and murders committed, rather than a place of immense significance by itself.
The cover of The House also emphasises the interior of Jack and Syd’s home, which contains rickety stairs and bare floorboards, both of which are classic conventions of a haunted house. Additionally, quotations featured on the cover of The House such as ‘terrifying’, ‘creepy’, and ‘spooky as hell’ all lead you to think and expect to read a haunted house story – or at least a story which hints at and embraces the paranormal – when, in reality, The House isn’t terrifying, creepy, or spooky at all – because it is a crime novel, not a Gothic novel. This didn’t feel like a clever twist, it felt like false advertising.
Overall, The House is a reasonable crime thriller, so if you’re a fan of that genre, you will probably enjoy this too. At least you’ll know what to expect, unlike me.
Star Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
This post was last updated in January 2020