Wednesday, 10 February 2010

‘The World House’ – Guy Adams (Angry Robot Books)


Being useless enough at keeping hold of money as it is (seriously) the closest I come to taking a gamble these days is grabbing a book at random off the pile and having a read. If I’m up for a little more of a gamble then I’ll grab a book by an author I’ve never even heard off let alone read before. This is the best kind of gamble of all; holding a brand new book (by an author that you’ve never heard of) that could take you anywhere...
Sometimes the gamble pays off and I find myself reading a book like ‘Pandemonium’ or ‘Mr. Hands’. Sometimes the gamble totally backfires and I find myself reading a book like ‘Vampire Maker’ (scroll down the page a little way and see what I mean)... I grabbed ‘The World House’, more or less, at random and the blurb promised good things for what lay inside. Having read the book, I can say that the blurb lived up to that promise. It’s still early in the year but if I was to start making a ‘Best Reads of 2010’ list then ‘The World House’ would be featuring very highly...

If you find the box then you’re only a step away from the house that lies inside. It’s not a place you want to visit though. There are cannibals in the greenhouse, the toy room is deadly, the broom cupboards are not to be opened and whatever you do don’t go for a swim in the bathroom... This isn’t the worst of it though. At the top of the house lives the being whom the house was built to contain and if he was ever to escape then the world will end.
A group of people are about to find out that once you’re in the house then there’s only one way out. It’s at the top of the house...

It’s not often that I find myself tearing through a book, desperate to find out how it all ends but at the same time trying to hold back and drag out such an enjoyable reading experience for as long as possible. It’s even less often that I find myself doing this with a book that can be so unrelentingly dark and sinister. This was my experience of the ‘World House’; a book that reeled me in and had me hooked before I even realised that I’d taken the bait. I didn’t mind in the slightest.

That’s not to say it’s all easy going though. Adams opts to throw his readers in at the deep end right from the start; dropping them into the strange confines of the house and then going backwards and forwards in time, drawing threads together and showing us how the main players arrive. Adams certainly weaves an interesting tale in this respect and drops several clues as to how things will eventually play out. The only problem is though that this approach can make for some choppy reading at times and the pacing does suffer as a result. Stick with it though, everything settles down eventually and that’s when the fun starts.

You come to the World House for the mystery but end up staying for the scenery. The blurb draws comparisons with Tad Williams’ ‘Otherland’ and I can see the parallels in a world full of beautifully strange rooms where danger can lurk in the most innocuous things. Adams is treading his own path though and I had great fun watching him draw all the threads of the plot together and laying them against such a dark background.
When Miles, Penelope and co find themselves in the House, their first thought is to somehow escape but they are also keen to find out what led them here in the first place. Here is the best kind of mystery, the one where people are just dumped somewhere (with no idea why) and left to fend for themselves. The fact that it’s in a place as wonderfully strange as the House makes the mystery even more delicious and compelling. You may have seen similar conclusions before, in other works, but the point is that you won’t see it coming in this one. When it does come you’ll realise that it was there the whole time but it had been hidden by the House itself. Sometimes things happen... because they just have to. It’s all dealt with very well and poses questions that the sequel (‘Restoration’) will answer. I’ll definitely be there to see how it all turns out.

As I said earlier, there are parallels to be drawn with other ‘multiple worlds’ novels (there’s even a reference to Narnia inside) but ‘The World House’ is brimming over with it’s very own character and characters whose humanity throws the weirdness of the house into sharp contrast and makes it even more strange. This is a house full of shadows that have teeth and nothing is as innocent as it first seems. If there was ever a writer who could write in Technicolor it’s Guy Adams; his creations leap off the page at you and make you jump back in shock (I’m thinking about the Chef in the cupboard here), I could feel the wraiths circling outside the House...

‘The World House’ overcomes a shaky start in style and becomes a book that lives on in your head long after you’ve finished it. At least that’s what will happen to you if my experience was anything to go by. This is the kind of book that ‘Best of Lists’ were made for.

Nine and Three Quarters out of Ten

4 comments:

Celine said...

I'd buy based on the cover alone. It's a beaut ( I know! Shallow much?)

Hagelrat said...

Finished this tonight and seriously loved it!

Tea and Tomes said...

I've seen a lot of reviews for this book lately, and I have to say, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. It sounds like a great read!

henred5 said...

Finished in a week - would have taken me less time if it wasn't for work. Thirst quenching book.