Demon houses, strange marriages, time travel. This book was…confusing.
After hearing voices among an eerie copse of trees in the woods, seventeen-year-old Curtis must confront his worst fear: that he has inherited his father’s mental illness. A desperate search for answers leads him to discover Gravenhearst, a labyrinth mansion that burned down in 1894. When he locks eyes with a steely Victorian girl in a forgotten mirror, he’s sure she’s one of the fire’s victims. If he can unravel the mystery, he can save his sanity . . . and possibly the girl who haunts his dreams.
But more than 100 years in the past, the girl in the mirror is fighting her own battles. When her mother disappears and her sinister stepfather reveals his true intentions, Mila and her sister fight to escape Gravenhearst and unravel the house’s secrets—before it devours them both.
Conceptually, I think this book was sound. The idea of a terrifyingly demonic house and people in dire situations in the past and the present is a powerful one. I just got so cross at the execution of this book that I can’t give it more than three stars.
My main complaint. Instalove. It’s 2017 people, can we not have people who have never actually met suddenly falling in love through a magical time travel mirror? I don’t mind a speedy love story. I’m definitely here for a slow burn, but you’ve ‘met’ once and suddenly you’re dreaming about making out with each other? No! And this isn’t me being the ‘bitter old lady reading YA’ brigade, it just comes out of nowhere. This whole book would have been more powerful without the romance plot at all.
Then there’s our villain. It’s not quite clear who is evil and who is just strangely possessed in this book which does dampen the impact somewhat. But there is also a strange Bluebeard esque marriage plot which made me all kinds of uncomfortable. I suppose that was the point, but it hit a bit too close to home for me and if you don’t like that kind of thing maybe stay clear.
I also felt like both worlds, the victorian and the modern world could have been fleshed out a little more. Things seem to be stuck between about eight characters despite the fact that the whole town is mentioned. I just needed everything to be a bit wider and more thought out to be fully present in the story.
I will say that this book has some lovely illustrations throughout which is a nice addition to the story, it’s also an easy book to get into and once you set aside all the bits I didn’t like it wasn’t terrible. This just wasn’t a book I really enjoyed.
My rating: 3/5 stars
If this sounds like something you might like, you can read House of Ash as it releases 25th September this year. I hope you like it more than I did.
By the way, I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What do you think? Want to rant about instalove together? Comment below and we can get our bad feelings out.