Book Review: House of Furies

House of Furies
Roux, Madeleine
3 stars = Pretty Good

Louisa is on the run. Leaving the private boarding school she attended, and with no family to speak of, she plans to masquerade as a fortune teller in order to obtain enough money to leave Britain for America. After one fortune telling session goes awry, she finds herself at the mercy of an old crone who offers her a position as a scullery maid at a nearby mansion, Coldthistle. Louisa is excited to have employment, but after seeing strange, solid apparitions in the night, she learns that Coldthistle Manor is a house that attracts the most horrid of visitors, and that their punishment (death) is meted out by the employees of the house. She has to decide whether or not to stay and try protect new visitor and possible romantic interest Lee, or to resuscitate plan A and flee to the Americas.

I enjoyed this entertaining, gothic style horror story. Louisa, our protagonist, is fairly interesting, especially as you learn more about her upbringing and experiences with abuse at her boarding school. She doesn't lack a backbone, which is something I appreciate in a protagonist, especially in a Victorian setting. However, for this reader, Coldthistle and Mr. Morningside are the interesting parts, and as this book is the first in the series, we only scratched the surface of discovering more about them. The mythology of the peoples living in the house is revealed by short vignettes at the beginnings of some chapters, and those creature's appearances were illustrated by someone quite talented. The occasional chapter was also preceded by artwork - pictures have meaning in the book, and some chapters featured a creepy looking wall featuring random, old school looking pictures of things that were usually relevant to the next few chapters.

Some readers have complained that the pacing of the book is a bit slow at the start, but I did not find this to be the case as I was pretty instantly swept up in the mystery of Coldthistle. I will say that I didn't find the book to be especially scary, even after a few extremely gruesome murders, but it was definitely a bit creepy. The lack of scariness, for me anyway, was because despite the pictures and fabulous illustrations, I never really bought into the creepy, gothic atmosphere. The lack of chills notwithstanding, I enjoyed the characters, setting and new-to-me mythology enough to ultimately enjoy the book. I think that teens that read horror novels will find a lot to like here, and I'll be booktalking this one (in high schools, it really is quite gory) in the fall. 3 stars.

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