BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A variety of people find themselves transported to a sinister house.
PROS: Fascinating and diverse characters; interesting setting; lots of twists; complex plot revealed at the end.
CONS: A fair amount of swearing; some uncomfortable scenes; minor plot holes.
BOTTOM LINE: Like an adult Alice in Wonderland, it’s quite different from other books out there. Imaginative and fun, it will keep you on your toes.
The World House is the story of various people who find themselves holding a mysterious box with Chinese letters on it during moments of personal danger. Transported to an alternate reality, the World House, these people meet and band together to survive the horrors that the house, and other displaced humans, throw at them.
It’s the variety of characters and the insane house that make this a great read. From Miles, an antiques dealer whose gambling debts mean he’s close to having his legs broken as repayment; to Tom. the piano player who loves Thursdays because he gets to see the woman he fancies; to Sophie, an autistic girl who sees the world differently, and Alan, who doesn’t remember his youth outside of disturbing dreams and who wants to be a good man. The setting is much like that of Alice in Wonderland, constantly changing and throwing new dangers at the characters. The house itself has infinitely long hallways, an oceanic bathtub and monsters that come to life at nighttime &madash; all of which keep the narrative exciting. And The ending pulls all the otherwise disjointed stories together in a way that’s impossible to predict as the entity the house guards manipulates the current situation to its benefit.
There is some swearing and a few scenes were uncomfortable to read, but there was nothing particularly graphic. One character is portrayed as a bad man via the clichéd use of an attempted rape. His casual cruelty would have been better demonstrated by his actions at the end of the book, even though the scene did depict the feistiness and survival instincts of one of the female characters. (Meanwhile, another woman is raped in the background, so be advised.) The ending also implies that one of the characters must meet with certain people, whom he never meets in the book and never hears about, so it’s unclear how he’s supposed to do this, though that is apparently explained in the sequel.
In the end, The World House is quite different from other books out there. It’s imaginative and fun. And it will keep you on your toes.