20 July 2016

Review #490: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Hate looks like everybody else until it smiles”

----Tahereh Mafi

Sarah Pinborough, an English-born horror writer, has penned a gripping and dark young adult thriller, The Death House that revolves around a thirteen year old boy who has been whisked away from his family after a negative blood test into The Death House, where he will be observed under the care of some nurses for any sign of sickness which will decide his fate whether he will or will not be taken to the sanatorium, the ultimate end.


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

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House; an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They're looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it's time to take them to the sanatorium.

No one returns from the sanatorium.

Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.

Because everybody dies. It's how you choose to live that counts.

Very soon Toby's not-so-happening life was going to turn perfect when his crush invited him to a party, and it felt obvious to Toby that somehow that girl too might like him. But his life turns worse, as one fine day he is almost snatched away from his parents into a big van that took him to an idle house located somewhere away from human existence, where he shall be treated under the care of the Matron and a few nurses for any sign of sickness, and if a simple sign of illness is observed, he shall be taken into a life leading to the top floor of the house, where the sanatorium is located, from where no one ever comes back except the nurses. Although, the fear of being taken away never left Toby, still he made friends in his dorm where he slept with a bunch of boys of his age, also they continued their studies. And one fine day, Toby gets a meaning into his life while waiting for his turn to be dead, another van arrives with some new children and among them someone catches Toby's eyes and heart, and together they shall learn to overcome and escape the fear and this pathetic lifestyle.

From the synopsis, the book sounds very creepy, although the author failed to portray that intensity of creepiness that a reader will be expecting after reading the book's synopsis. The book's cover image is dark and throws a terrifying feel to the story line and it holds a power to instantly grasp the readers' attention towards the story. Yet from the very start of the story, the readers will find themselves losing into Toby's tragic and mysterious life that even he has no knowledge of. But midway through the book, the main focus of the story shifts towards undying bond of friendship, young love and petty fights filled with lots of adventure.

The author's writing style is really strong and emphatic and is laced with intense darkness to drown the readers into its depth. The narrative is catchy, mystifying and very much genuine, hence the readers won't find it easy to comprehend with the story line. The pacing varies, from being very fast to being moderate, as often the readers will be curious and vouching for something worse to happen with the characters, until the very shocking climax that will completely blow their minds off.

The author's world building is quite well developed and believable in the eyes of the readers although the author leaves her readers curious with lots of unanswered questions about this world, where children are taken to The Death House based on a blood test that resulted negative because of their "Defective" gene, but who are taking them and what they are doing to those with the "Defective" gene will remain very unclear to the readers. Otherwise, the backdrop of a secluded island synced perfectly with the story line.

The characters are really fantastic, as they are laced with realism in their demeanor. The main character, Toby, is a young boy, who is brave beyond his innocence and tender age and quite mature, as that is obvious from the way Toby precepts things in his wrecked life. His friendship with other children from the house is extraordinarily brilliant and I believe young boys like Toby can fathom with his thoughtful attitude. The rest for the characters are not that well developed, as they act as sidelines for Toby's story.

In a nutshell, this dark and compelling story will turn out to be a hypnotic read for the readers and I bet young adult fans will love this piece of fiction.

Verdict: Be prepared to be terrified with this edgy yet mysterious story.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Sarah Pinborough's, publicist from Hachette, for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Sarah Pinborough is an English-born horror writer. Her works have been compared to those of Bentley Little, Richard Laymon and Dean Koontz. She also writes fantasy novels for children under the name Sarah Silverwood.
Visit her here

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