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Triple-check your doors are locked before reading Simon Lelic’s The House


United By Pop received a free copy of The House in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.

Title: The House

Author: Simon Lelic

Purchase: Available in the UK and the US

Overall rating: 4/5

Great for: Fans of Maile MeloyJ.P. Delaney, and Phil Hogan

Themes: Adult, contemporary, thriller, mystery and suspense

The House by Simon Lelic

Review: London is an ordeal for any young couple making the daunting first leap on to the property ladder. All the desirable future homes are unobtainable and, well, all the obtainable ones are undesirable. That’s why it seemed too good to be true when a late-twenties couple, Sydney and Jack, beat all the other prospective buyers for their dream home. But when it seems too good to be true, that usually means it is.

Purchasing their dream home soon awakened their worst nightmares. The previous owner left every object from his past life for the new owners to uncover. Hidden treasures and forgotten favourites are discovered in amongst the rubbish, but so too are haunting links to the past and things better left unearthed.

But it’s not only the interior they have to worry about. When a stranger shares too much of Sydney’s past life and when Jack’s career is under threat the couple must decide whether to turn on each other or unite and fight. For with the return of their past fears, suspicion runs rife over who, or what is tormenting them.

The unique style of narrative immediately intrigued me. The novel alternated between Jack’s and Sydney’s perspectives and they often conversed directly to each other from their shared memoir. Their log of the mystery haunting them provided both an insight into the nature of their relationship and carefully unfolded the troubled pasts both had thought long buried. Simon Lelic cleverly used their reticence to clearly voice their concerns to leave the reader shaded in the dark for ultimate impact when their secrets are ultimately revealed. It is very clear that their penned thoughts record a ‘before’ to the ‘after’ that dogs them.

There is a lot that takes place in this novel. What begins as a seemingly simple chronicle of one couple’s inner-demons, soon twists into a running commentary of London’s prominent ‘don’t look don’t ask’ mentality and the implications this has for those who seek help. When none are willing it leaves the individual to take matters into their own hands, with often drastic consequences.

The aftermath of these consequences are explored and whilst Simon Lelic handles each troubling subject matter with a grace and sensitivity, this could prove triggering for some readers. The moralistic ramifications are left for the reader to explore and it was interesting to see where my own feelings about the events that took place lay, and how my priorities had shifted over the course of my reading this.

This is a thoroughly spooky tale with an absence of anything supernatural. It evoked the classic Gothic vibes of the historical haunted mansion and managed to brilliantly transpose it onto a modern, urban landscape. This served to heighten the horror and made the events all the more conceivable. You might want to check that you’ve locked the door before you start reading…