Friday, February 11, 2011

The World House by Guy Adams

Title: The World House
Author: Guy Adams
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publishing Date: February 4th 2010
Paperback: 416 pages

Stand Alone or series: First part of a duology.
Where did I get this book: Robot Army electronic arc

There is a box. Inside that box is a door. And beyond that door is a whole world.

In some rooms, forests grow. In others, animals and objects come to life. Elsewhere, secrets and treasures wait for the brave and foolhardy.

And at the very top of the house, a prisoner sits behind a locked door waiting for a key to turn. The day that happens, the world will end…

It's usually the most innocuous looking things that turn out to be the most dangerous. In this story, that thing is a box. There is nothing particularly special about the appearance of this box. Besides some Chinese lettering, the box is pretty plain in fact. If it weren't for the fact the box doesn't even open, it would be the kind of thing someone would use to put unimportant trinkets in. But since it can't even do that, it appears the box if doomed to sit on shelves long forgotten. Of course that would make for an awfully boring story, so I don't think it needs to be said that the box is so much more than just a box.

It's really a door to a strange world.

And in this world nothing, not even the guise of a house, is as it seems. Corridors can change on a whim and bathrooms hold entire oceans in them. There are new threats in every room and "night" is a daily battle. But there's something even more frightening than being killed by taxidermy animals or eaten by crazed cannibals, and that's the prisoner this strange world was made to hold.

Reviewing this book is a lot harder then I thought it would be. For one, this book is just plain difficult to easily sum up. Throughout the book Adams keeps his cards to his chest and part of the fun of stories like this is getting to unravel the mystery. The book contains a lot of various characters as well. Most of the first half of the book deals with this actually. While Adams managed to make his characters individuals and at least partially sympathetic in a short amount of time (mostly by making the characters a bit pathetic in some way), I did get a bit bogged down by all the different players. I don't know if I would say this is major issue, but I did start to get frustrated with the story. Of course, this is a common issue with multiple POVs.

I also had a problem with the ending. A major problem. Not because I think the ending was bad, but more because I thought it wasn't very appropriately timed. The beginning of the story starts out slower paced as we get to know all the different characters, but then it starts to pick up steam. Finally, by the end there is an almost frenzied feeling to it. As the reader you feel like the story is culminating into something meatier that will give the story more heft, but it doesn't. It just ends with this sort of limp "to be continued" type atmosphere. After getting sucked into the book so completely and racing to finish I was completely disappointed. And that is not how you want to leave a reader (especially if you want them to read the next book). Even typing this out has made me annoyed again and I read the book over a week ago. (I will admit that it could have bothered me more because I've been trying to avoid series books lately and I like a warning when a book isn't self contained.)

Now, that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the book or I don't plan on reading the sequel. I very much did and I probably will. I just think the ending turned a potentially great book into a good one. The story actually reminded me of Palimpsest , by Catherynne M. Valente, in a lot of ways. Not because the stories are similar beyond the world inside a world thing, but because I went through the same cycle of emotions. I would be curious then annoyed, excited and riveted. But the difference between Palimpsest and The World House is Valente was able to bring it home with a strong ending. The ending aside though, this book is still one hell of a ride and worth a read.

Notable Quotes/ Parts: 

You can read the first chapter here (pdf).


If the second book is just as good but with a stronger ending, then Adam's will have made something pretty marvelous. As of now though, The World House misses that mark. It was quite refreshing to read a book without any love triangles though.

Also, one of the characters (a young girl) seemed to have gone missing after being introduced. What's up with that?

Rating: 6. Good, but might not be for everyone

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