Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Death House


The Death House
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!

Toby lived a perfectly normal life, there was a girl he liked at school who he was trying to impress for instance, but one blood test changes all of that.

Toby finds himself at the Death House, it's an out of time existence far from the modern world, Toby and the other kids with the defect live there, watched by the Matron and her nurses. They're studied, watched, for any indication of illness, and once certain symptoms make themselves known, the sick child is taken to the Sanatorium.

No-one has ever come back from the Sanatorium.

Toby is a quasi leader to his dorm of boys, and he spends his days living in fear, or immersed in memories of the past. But things start to change when new arrivals to the house, well....arrive. Everything changes, and death is closer than they think.

I loved this, it was so creepy and dark and original and I just wanted to know more and more about the world and the Death House and the Sanatorium. There's an unnamed illness, and the kids are randomly tested for it at school, if they make it to 18 without the defect being found, they're safe, if not they're taken from their family and sent to the Death House.

I loved how realistic and natural this book was, and it was most clearly these two things when you see Toby of the past, not fussed about taking the test purely because he gets to miss lessons. I mean, that's been all of us at one point hasn't it, I remember hating needles, but actually being okay with getting jabs done at school because I missed Maths! This and many other little things made Toby easy to connect to as you read.

Every character was believable and easy to relate to and understand. The setting was vivid, and incredibly creepy, as well as quite dark, I mean a lift that takes the kids away to their doom....loved it! The nurses and Matron where suitably creepy and villainous and clearly up to something/keeping something from Toby.

Toby makes a comparison between him and his housemates and Lord Of The Flies, and it's incredibly accurate because I was getting that vibe very strongly as I was reading. They make bets on people getting sick and pretty much are all over someone's weakness, and check each other for signs of illness, and Daniel? Totally Piggy. Just saying!

I'm not sure what else to say! It was a fantastic read, I loved the atmosphere of the book oozing off the page and the threads of menace, I loved the setting, I loved the little bits from Toby's memories, smoothly slotted in to the fast paced narrative. I particularly liked the whole thing Toby had with magic, and the memory with his mum, and how he'd believe for her, even though he was too old, and then passed that on to Clara and Will. The book was quite heartbreaking in a couple of places, and the ending was so heartbreakingly perfect. I pretty much read this in a couple of hours and it's been one of my favourite reads!

You really do come to care about the characters, and while the book is heartbreaking at times, it's also uplifting when you see the kids living and characters like Clara being so alive, even though you can feel this sense of hopelessness in the atmosphere of the book. While it seemed pretty clear what happened to the kids who went to the Sanatorium, it was also not entirely clear, you draw your own conclusions in a way. I found it such an original story, I know I keep saying it, but there where so many different elements combined to make this read so addictive, and I loved how everyone was kind of giving you side eye if you even sniffed, it was a very plague era kind of vibe.

The book is so just so well written and so captivating and so amazing, and just read it, please, I promise you won't regret it, you'll be able to speed through it an a couple of hours like me because you can't put it down, you get enchanted with it and the despair and darkness, and the little shreds of magic from stories mothers tell kids, and I can't even review this well enough because I don't have the right words to convey the fantastic book!



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