The House by Sebastiana Randone
|The House by Sebastiana Randone|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Interesting novel incorporating time travel, the paranormal and romance. The author clearly loves the words and sentence constructions of days gone by and her attempts to emulate them are often successful but sometimes less so. We loved the storyline, which culminated in a super-duper ending to the novel. Sebastiana Randone popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 150||Date: March 2013|
A woman wakes to find herself alone in a dark forest. She sees a man and calls out to him but he ignores her. Eventually, she finds her way to a house and takes shelter. With no idea of how she came to be there - or recall of her own name, even - the woman explores this dilipidated mansion and discovers a portal that transports her back to Regency England. Here, a dreadful thing happens before she is transported back in time again.
Finding herself among a group of intellectual but dysfunctional people, the woman tries simultaneously to make a new life for herself and to find out who she is and why she has been taken back in time. And then, late one night, a young poet arrives from a long period in Florence, where his heart was broken by the death of a woman. Our heroine feels an immediate connection to him and she begins to wonder whether true love is the reason for her journey. But will she ever get past the many obstacles that lie in the way of the truth?
The House is a genre-buster. Is it a paranormal story? A fantasy? A mystery story? An historical romance? It's a little bit of all these things but I think mostly it is an homage to the great authors of the Romantic period. I imagine Randone thinking about the famous competition to write a horror story between Byron, Shelley and Shelley's wife Mary from which we were given Frankenstein. and feeling inspired to write her own dilatory entry. The House is thus full of nineteenth century vocabulary, sentence construction and diction.
The opening scene is fantastic, heavy with atmosphere and imagery. The anachronistic style really works here - there is something very Gothic about a woman in a torn gown wandering through an empty forest at night, is there not? I challenge you to read this first chapter and not to want to read on. Who is this woman? How did she come to be lost and alone? What will happen to her? However, I will say that, as the book goes on, Randone's adopted style falters from time to time. If you're going to use difficult words and complicated sentence structures, you must get them exactly right. The book could do with a thorough proofing to eliminate the occasional strangled sentence, imprecise word choice and general awkwardness.
The central mystery is fascinating and I hadn't worked out exactly what would happen - had happened! Don't forget that time-travel is involved! - right until the very end. I loved the idea of science and the supernatural meeting and the community of interesting intellectual characters that Randone has assembled for her story and I loved the genuine sense of time and place she imparted. The dense style makes for a slow read that communicates a feeling of foreboding and curiosity on a very successful slow build. If you really only like rapid page-turners, The House isn't really for you. It's a book for readers who want to truly absorb themselves in a story.
Aside from a little roughness around the edges, I thoroughly enjoyed The House. It will appeal to readers of many genres and it's interesting and vivid. And there's little like it around. If you're looking for something a little bit different to read, it might be just what you're after.
If you haven't read it already, you really shouldn't miss The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
You can read more about Sebastiana Randone here.
You can read more book reviews or buy The House by Sebastiana Randone at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The House by Sebastiana Randone at Amazon.com.
Sebastiana Randone was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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