Book Reviews

Review: House of Furies (House of Furies #1) by Madeleine Roux

Seventeen year old Louisa Ditton is unwanted. By her parents, by her grandparents, by her school. By the general populace. She’s telling fortunes in the streets for pennies until an old crone tricks her into coming to Coldthistle House, where she begins working as a maid. But things aren’t as they seem inside the mansion, where the next day Mrs. Haylam, the old crone, isn’t quite so old or quite so cronish, and there’s a girl working that reminds Louisa a little too much of her childhood imaginary friend. There’s also the Residents, terrifying smoke-like creatures that may or may not be protecting her, but are extremely dangerous to the guests. And don’t forget Mr. Morningside, the owner of Coldthistle House, who seems to be a few hundred years old and has backwards feet, like a demon.

Coming across Mr. Morningside’s diary, Louisa starts to unravel the alarming histories of her employer, as well as those of the inhabitants of the house itself. And it’s not long before she realizes that all the guests that come to Coldthistle House don’t actually leave.

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux is a gothic novel set in Victorian times and is filled with murder and mystery, making it the perfect book to read in late September / early October. I found the side characters to be more interesting than Louisa and her love interest, Lee Bremerton, and hope they’re further explored in the next book. Unfortunately there is a lot of unnecessary plot, a lot of side plot, and not a lot of getting to the point, but the strange and weird that happens within the 400-odd pages is enough that I will pick up the second book in the series at one point.

Roux seems to be a fan of shorts within her different book universes, so hopefully we will get one featuring the Residents, and how they came to be. The hints that were dropped have me itching for more.

Book Reviews

Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

It may not be October just yet, but it’s officially fall. Which means, to me at least, that it’s time to read everything spooky, scary, weird, and harvest themed. I started my journey with a reread of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Not my typical light flavor, but a gothic novel told in a unique voice that’s worth the read.

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death cap mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

Merricat and Constance Blackwood, along with old Uncle Julian, are the only Blackwoods left. Together, they live in seclusion on the family estate after a horrible incident involving an ingestion of arsenic killed the other members of their family. Uncle Julian, being too ill to go anywhere and Constance, borderline agoraphobic, leave Merricat to do as she pleases throughout the day. Routine is important to her, so aside from neatening the house and burying protective talismans in the yard, she goes into town twice a week for groceries and library books. Merricat does this while imagining different ways the cruel townspeople who taunt her and her family die.

One day, Merricat “feels a change coming, and no one knows it but me.” Her cousin Charles comes to call, with plots within plots but too stupid to carry them out smartly.

Truth be told, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is extremely fascinating. It’s told to us in real time by Merricat, but she is a most unreliable narrator. Seemingly stunted in development from the time of her family’s murder years ago, we can’t quite tell if what’s she’s telling us is how the story actually unfolds. She’s very imaginative and child-like, believing in magic and making up games and rules for herself, but clearly unbalanced.  My personal favorite way to look at her is as if she’s a ghost herself.