Lucie Whitehouse - The House at Midnight (1 star)

Lucie Whitehouse - The House at Midnight

(Bloomsbury)

MYSTERY DRAMA

Employing a strategy inherently demanding that there’s no good reason to use one paragraph to describe paintings about Greek gods when an entire page-and-a-half will do, Lucie Whitehouse’s debut ultimately borders on the insulting. Judging by the hefty tributes on the book jacket, we are promised compelling doses of atmosphere and suspense, but are merely landed with a story that annoys through its misplaced grandiosity and amazes with its sheer banality of character and dialogue.

A gaggle of youngish middle-class irritants (some have ‘indie-singer hair’, others have the ‘air of the Left Bank’) gather in a really big house for New Year, with a sinister weight hanging around them concerning the host’s family secrets, notably the deaths of his uncle and father. With the narrator being ensnared in this dangerous world, it takes 370 pages for an unbelievably lame and tension-free climax to be realised. The Lucie Whitehouse experience is one to avoid.

Comments

1. Abbiegws17 Jan 2008, 10:49am Report

This is a very interesting review, because I think the reader only read the first 3 chapters.
I felt at first that the narration was over descriptive, and prehaps the writer did over emphasize on the painting, however the reasons for doing this became clear later in the story.
I found this book to be very atmospheric, and although I found the first couple of chapters heavy going, I quickly became very absorbed in the lives of the characters, I consider myself queen of second guessing, but I was amazed by the great twists of plot.
I look forward to Whitehouses' next book.

2. Concerned23 Jan 2008, 12:48pm Report

I agree with Abbie gws - this reader clearly didn't get past chapter 3 (if that!). The book is descriptive to start, which serves well to set the scene and get the reader in the right frame of mind for the story - which takes off at a gallop and continues right until the end, which is brilliant by the way! Honestly, it's a stunning book, and so what if it is a bit descriptive at the beginning, when a book is written this well even the description is a joy to read. It sounds to me as though the original reviewer has a massive chip on their shoulder about something (can't think what)... it's a great first novel, read it and make up your own mind.

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