Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Simon Lelic’s fantastic psychological thriller, ‘The House’. I read this book whilst I was on holiday, and absolutely raced through it! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
The perfect couple. The perfect house.
. . . The perfect crime.
Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.
So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.
Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door.
AND NOW THE POLICE ARE WATCHING THEM.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains repeated references to childhood abuse, including physical and emotional violence. Explores the theme of substance abuse, specifically drug use and alcoholism. Explores the theme of mental illness, including self-harm and suicide.
‘The House’ (2017) is Simon Lelic’s fourth book but first psychological thriller, following on from ‘Rupture’ (2010), ‘The Facility’ (2011) and ‘The Child Who’ (2012). Since then, he has also written ‘The Liar’s Room’ (July 2018). Lelic lives with his family in Brighton, and reading is his biggest passion.
The novel has received rave reviews, from the likes of Daily Mail: “This is not so much a ghost story as a homage to the master’s expert touch with dread”, Sunday Times: “A whodunit, a dark love story and a saga of three dysfunctional families” and The Sunday Mirror: “This clever, twisting plot, told in convincing voices, will haunt you”. Many fellow authors have also praised the book, such as Tana French: “An intricate and powerful thriller” and Mark Billingham: “Hugely gripping and spooky as hell”.
‘The House’ tells the story of Jack and Syd, who have recently moved into their dream home in London. But strange things begin to happen, and the couple find themselves entangled in some truly terrifying events…
The narrative is told from the first-person perspectives of Jack and Sydney, and is written in the form of diary entries. The reader is given an in-depth insight to their thoughts, feelings and emotions, as they recall the strange events that happened in their new house. The narrative is told in the present day, but they describe the events from a year ago retrospectively. The story is fairly easy to follow, but is still very effective.
Sydney is my favourite character in the novel. In the present, she’s an extremely strong-willed and determined person, and I really admired her bravery. Sydney has experienced a lot of suffering and abuse in the past, and it’s only when she meets partner Jack that she begins to turn her life around. When she befriends a young girl in the neighbourhood named Elsie, she puts her all into helping her through her trauma. I felt many different emotions towards her at multiple times whilst reading, such as anger and sadness. Sydney is a very realistic, three-dimensional character, and I felt that she was brilliantly-written.
Jack is a hard-working, kind man, and he really adores Sydney. After years of working and saving money, he can now finally give Sydney the life she deserves. He has always done his best to help Sydney, and their relationship is solid when they move into the house. But Jack’s not all he appears to be, and he definitely has a darker side. When strange things begin to happen in the house, his relationship with Sydney is really put to the test, and Jack proves himself to be selfish and arrogant at times. Jack is also a very well-written character.
Local girl Elsie’s home life is really tough, and she is really struggling. She finds comfort in her friendship with Sydney, and really looks up to her as a role model. Elsie is an innocent, kind young girl, and she really doesn’t deserve any of the suffering she is experiencing. But her relationship with Sydney is severely tested, and they are both put in a very difficult situation. I felt a great deal of sympathy towards Elsie, and it was difficult at times to read about the abuse she is suffering.
Other characters in the novel include: Elsie’s father, Sydney and Jack’s parents, Jack’s colleagues and clients, and various members of the police team. There is a relatively small cast of characters in the novel, but all bring something fresh and exciting to the story.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) The novel makes repeated references to childhood abuse, including physical and emotional violence. Two characters are linked by suffering physical violence at the hand of their fathers. The novel goes into great detail about the violence these characters endure, including references to the violent act itself and the emotional aftermath for the victim. The theme of substance abuse is explored throughout the novel, in particular drug use and alcoholism. One of the characters is an ex-drug addict, and her past of taking drugs is described in detail. Finally, the novel explores the theme of mental illness, including detailed references to self-harm and suicide. The descriptions of self-harm are difficult to read at times, and there are also references to scarring and body image. These issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity, but if you feel that any of these issues may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors onwards, more and more strange things begin to occur at the house. It appears that someone is out to get Sydney and Jack, and they must protect themselves from danger. Sydney and Jack’s relationship is seriously tested, as is her friendship with Elsie. Will they get to the bottom of these crimes, before it’s too late?
So, let’s talk about the ending! There’s a huge twist and the truth finally comes out. There’s an extremely dramatic reveal that I definitely never could have anticipated! All the pieces of the puzzle finally fit together, and everything suddenly makes sense. Although the ending wasn’t action-packed or dramatic, I really enjoyed the way in which the events were all tied together.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly if you’re fans of Alfred Hitchcock or Stephen King. The plot is intriguing and the characters are fantastic, and there is plenty of suspense and tension throughout. For me personally, this book wasn’t quite my cup of tea, as I don’t usually enjoy “ghost stories” very much. But if that’s your kind of thing, I’m sure you’ll love this book!
Happy reading 🙂