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Saturday, 23 June 2012

The House At Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse

The House At Midnight is a dark and moody novel about a group of close friends and the tremors and turbulence that arise in their relationships when one of the gang, Lucas, inherits a grand mansion in the English countryside. It is told from the perspective of Lucas' closest friend Jo, who feels uneasy and unsettled by the imposing house from her first visit there.

There is no denying that Lucie Whitehouse's writing is excellent. From the very first page I felt a sense of foreboding and dread at what was to come. She perfectly conveys the sinster claustrophobia that permeates the house and creates a wonderfully Gothic atmosphere. I was also really impressed at the way she gradually gives the reader a really thorough understanding of all the characters, illustrating their personalities impeccably. I personally found myself completely sympathising with Jo and almost relating to her even when she made some terrible decisions and behaved in a less than angelic manner. And the villain of the group - although I won't give away who that turns out to be! - is one of the creepiest, most devious characters I have come across in some time. There were times when I had shivers running down my spine at the way in which this person manipulated their friends without a single regard for their feelings.

Unfortunately, about halfway through, the book seemed to lose momentum slightly. There's an argument, there's a period of tense silence, there's an awkward reconciliation of sorts. And then the cycle repeats again. There was definitely a point where I was wondering if the tale was actually going anywhere. Things pick up a little towards the finale, which is undoubtedly chilling, but I found it a little rushed and some of the details were difficult to believe. I have written an extended review containing spoilers which can be found on my Goodreads account, so if anybody is reading this review who has already read the book, I'd be very interested to know your thoughts!

I will definitely read more by this author as the style of writing I have seen in this book is more than enough to convince me of her great talent. However it's a shame that it fell a bit short for me when it came to the plot developments.


  1. I read another book by Lucie Whitehouse, The Bed I Made, and I had a similar reaction to you. My review of that book is here: http://leeswammes.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/the-bed-i-made-by-lucie-whitehouse/

    Also a bit slow in the middle, but well-written.

    I'll probably try this book if I come across it. I won't go running out to find it, though.

  2. That's really interesting, I think a lot of the comments you make in your review could also apply to The House At Midnight! I had heard of The Bed I Made through the TV Book Club but never realised it was written by the same person.

  3. I have had this on my tbr pile for a long time. I have read The Bed I Made and found it very slow. Great review.