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Book Review: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

Published 26th February 2015 by Orion Books.

24597331Goodreads Synopsis: Toby’s life was perfectly normal . . . until it was unravelled 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Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear.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.

My Review: I hadn’t heard of The Death House until I received a proof copy, but after reading the blurb I was sure I would enjoy it! The concept sounded very chilling and dark, and it definitely was – it’s very unsettling at points.

The concept of the story is that if you get a certain result on a blood test as a child, you are sent to the Death House – here you stay with the other infected kids, similar to a boarding school, but there’s seemingly no way out… Unless you start to show symptoms and you’re taken to the sanatorium. Which nobody ever returns from.

I liked the mysterious concept, as Sarah leaves much to the imagination of the reader. I tried to come up with possibilities and answers, my mind running away with all sorts of scenarios of the outside world. The whole book is very eerie, because nothing about this illness, and not much about the outside world, is fully explained. However it did get to the point where I just needed to know how and what and why. I was a little sad the ending didn’t completely wrap it up – the last few pages were incredibly tragic but I felt at the end that there was something missing.

I’m quite mixed on the characters. They are incredibly well fleshed-out, real-feeling teenagers, and yet I just didn’t… Attach to them very much… Oh god I have no heart. I really don’t know why, but I know I’m in the minority of people who are mixed on this book – There have been so many five star reviews, and I can completely see why so many people have found this book, particularly the characters, truly astounding. Of course, there were a couple of bits I got quite choked up at but I just never felt like I was 100% into the story.

Overall, The Death House was a very evocative, quick read – I really recommend it if you’re looking for a very chilling, mysterious standalone novel. It’s hard to place it into a category, because it felt almost like a zombie novel, and it looks and feels like a dark horror, but it reads like a YA contemporary romance – quite bizarre sounding, but it’s incredibly memorable. I know I’m one of a small number of people who hasn’t enjoyed this just as much of others – for some reason, something just didn’t click with me – but I’m confident most people will be rendered completely awestruck by Pinborough’s inventive plot.

My Rating: 

three and a half

I received a copy of The Death House from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

 BBC pointed shaded

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

  1. I love this review! I really want to read this book – hopefully I can give it 5 stars. Do you mind me asking, how did you get an ARC for this book? I am a new blogger, and I am hoping to get some ARCs. Thanks so much – you can contact me, all the information is on my blog.

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