Fiction, Gothic, Mystery
January 5th, 2016
Won from Goodreads (First Reads)
In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up.
Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan’s lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan’s library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan’s past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan’s mind.
The Children’s Home is fairly engrossing, although so much of it is mysterious that it’s not the easiest book to figure out. It’s a great read if you’re looking for something that makes you think and reflect on deeper concepts. It’s got delightfully gothic elements (evocative of Henry James, mostly), but it’s primarily a fiction.
I’ve seen it compared to works by Neil Gaiman, which I’d agree with because of the lyrical word choice and “less is more” approach; I’ve seen it compared to works by Edward Gorey, which I disagree with because it goes very deep and isn’t self-reflective.
I’m still awed by how Lambert was able to weave a multi-level story from what few facts and reality-based touchstones are in this novel. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. And it worked so well that I read it in less than a week, and then had to sit and ruminate on it for another week. And it definitely didn’t go where I was certain it would.
This is a book that will keep you guessing, and if you’re open to not knowing where the author is going, to surprised and suspension of disbelief, and revel more in the deeper concepts than the surface story, I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s definitely well-suited to winter (it’s published in 18 days), and I recommend it for fans of gothic multi-layer lyrical fiction.