The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter
|The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: An atmospheric, unsettling mystery adventure story, that's part historical thriller, part family drama!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: July 2021|
|Publisher: Nosy Crow Ltd|
|External links: Author's website|
Faith's family home is teetering on the edge of a cliff, literally. Is that crack in the garden getting bigger? Is the house starting to slope a little? And as the house seems to be falling apart, so is Faith's family. Her dad has disappeared, and her mum is struggling to cope, barely leaving her bed. So that leaves Faith in charge, taking care of her little brother Noah, taking care of her mum, feeding everyone, getting Noah to school, and avoiding awkward questions from interfering teachers. Is her little brother okay? Why is he obsessed with what he claims is a ghost in the cellar? What should she do about the house? Can she find a way to raise enough money to fix it? What's happened to her dad? Why did he disappear? Maybe he'll come back if she manages to get funding for the house? She carries the weight of all these worries on her constantly, and she doesn't know how much longer the cliff will hold together, or how long she can keep on keeping on.
The best thing about this book is Faith, the narrator. I felt very protective of her as I read, and you really feel the burden of all she is dealing with. You care about what's happening to her, and whilst you're fairly shouting at her to just open up and ask for help to someone...anyone...at the same time you understand why she is afraid, and why she feels that she can't! Seeing the way she tries to just be invisible at school, so no one will ask how she is, or how her mum is, makes for quite an emotional read.
The mystery around the history of her house, and her father's investigations into that, is engaging and intriguing too. As Faith starts to learn more about the house, she begins to learn more about her father too. I really enjoyed the character of Sam, and how he helps Faith to uncover what's been going on. I don't want to give spoilers, but I liked the twists and turns in the story as we find out more about Sam, and his family.
I did feel there were a few places where the story would have benefited from a little more explanation, for example some of the historical aspects could have been pulled out and expanded just a little more. As the story romps towards the conclusion there were just some moments when I would find myself thinking 'wait, what?' as certain events take place, or revelations are made, and so just a little more time in the telling would have been helpful, I think. But the seaside setting is very atmospheric, and the book has a real feeling of a thriller to it at times, with their house so close to the edge of the cliff! You can easily imagine the house as you read, and the locations around town too as you go there with Faith.
I think it's important to note that at times this is a tense and difficult read, in the sense of coping with what Faith is dealing with. I found the first part of the story really quite upsetting, as the tension builds for Faith with all the balls she is trying to keep in the air, and her life just starts to feel completely impossible. As the story moves on it switches tone a little more to mystery and adventure story, and the ending is fortunately upbeat so you come away feeling positive. I don't think it's a bad thing for children to read about other children taking on these very difficult, stressful, caring roles because it does happen in real life. But I think it's useful to be aware when a story is going to be an emotional read, just so you can support your child, if it's needed, as they experience the book. There's a lot to talk about after reading, and as well as looking at some difficult topics such as dealing with loss, grief and depression it's also a good, thrilling adventure story.
For more adventure stories set by the sea, you might also enjoy reading Mistress of the Storm by Melanie Welsh or Adventure Island: The Mystery of the Whistling Caves by Helen Moss
You can read more book reviews or buy The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The House on the Edge by Alex Cotter at Amazon.com.
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