Book Reviews





The Death House by Sarah Pinborough - review

Toby's life was perfectly normal... until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test."  

Title: The Death House
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: Orion
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Available: 26 February 2015
Buy it:  Here


Toby tested positive for the "Defective" gene, and now lives in The Death House with other Defective kids, waiting out their days together under the scrutiny of Matron and her emotionally devoid nurses who are looking for any change or sickness. Sick kids disappear in the night and never return. Determined not to be one of them, Toby claims the nights for himself. That is until the arrival of Clara...


It has been a long time since I stayed up into the small hours to finish a book. The Death House became one of those few novels that had me commited so intently into its story, I couldn't stop until I knew how it ended. Sleep be damned!

Toby was a brilliant protagonist. He was surly and lustful and rebellious and changeable. He reminded me a lot of Will from His Dark Materials, actually. He was true and honest, with all the nuances of teenage boy about him - good and bad. I'm glad that of all the protagonists we could have had, it was Toby. Torn between responsibility to the younger boys, his own fear of death, his acceptance of a slow decent to the end and his desire to be top dog of his dorm, Toby was such an intricate person, with some brilliant inner struggles. Clare is his complete foil, and they are perfect together.

The story is a wash of subtleties behind its main theme of impending doom. Romantic love, brotherly bonds, maternal love and denial of truth/feelings all make profound dents into the emotional taught-ness of the story, and we are reminded throughout the book that this is a Sarah Pinborough novel by the inclusion of a mermaid theme. It sits so prefectly against the characters, you wonder why more authors don't include mythological allusions.

The Death House is an emotional story that weaves mystery, mythology and friendship seamlessly into its short length. I found The Death House to be a brilliant page-turner and just couldn't put it down. Don't miss this wonderful YA!



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