the Christina Lauren books are mostly known as new adult/sexy reads like the Beautiful bastard series, but these two authors also wrote a Young Adult horror book. I came across the House while being at the Julie Kagawa meet & greet in Eindhoven last year and brought the book home with me. The House is a stand-alone book and the synopsis of this book got me really excited and gave me preparatory goosebumps for the read that was awaiting me. Curious to know what I thought of this YA horror? Read on for my extended non-spoiler review!
This is what main character Delilah is going through in this book in a nutshell after she’s getting more involved with Gavin, the boy she secretly adored for years now. They fall in love with each other and he takes her home to ‘House’.
Gavin grew up without a mom – he’s got very little memories of her because he was really young when she disappeared – and is being raised by ‘House’. The HOW of everything is also a mystery to Gavin. He’s got no clue how the house is able to care for him but when he’s hungry there’s always food and in general; when he needs something it’s always available. ‘House’ is always there for him and was always good to him, until now. Until he brings home this girl named Delilah and he falls in love with her.. Then he’s going to see a whole different ‘side’ of ‘house’.
‘House’ is not happy with Gavin’s feelings for Delilah and the more time he spends with Delilah, the more ‘House’ is going to rebel. No matter what Gavin tries to do to get away from ‘House’, ‘House’ is somehow always able to be a step ahead of Gavin and Delilah and it retaliates with a vengeance. This book is an ‘on the edge of your seat’ read and gave me goosebumps from beginning ’til the end. It’s definitely not a book you read right before bedtime, in the dark, inside your home.. lol. Be prepared 😉
Let’s start with the cover because I have to talk about it. There’s a really nice shine on the cover, which gives the whole book an even more creepy/dark feel to it, even before knowing what the book’s about. The open window with the curtains flapping and the rest of the house you see, like that old look and such, makes it all so mysterious. I was instantly wondering what the book’s about when I first picked it up in the store. And after reading the synopsis there was no doubt about it; this book had to come home with me.
The concept is really original and well written, LOVE it. A House that’s ‘alive’! Every room has it’s own characteristics and seems to have feelings of it’s own, which is palpable in the way ‘it’ behaves. It can be agitated, angry, loving and happy. At first, when you meet ‘house’ you’re extremely enthusiastic – at least I was – to meet it and read all about it. I loved reading about everything that went down inside ‘house’ and how it behaved and such… But damn, this lovey-dovey feeling evaporates really fast. The story gets creepy, creepy in a way that I sometimes really needed to add some mental distance from everything and remind myself that what was written in there, wasn’t REAL and that’s only words on a page haha. My mind had no trouble whatsoever to imagine everything about ‘House’ and that was scary as hell haha!
So yeah, the big question is; What’s ‘House’ exactly? Is it possessed? Is it magic that’s playing a part here? I couldn’t stop wondering about it, couldn’t stop making theories of my own. The answers I had were revealed in the end. If you want them, READ THE BOOK and find out for yourself 😉
The book is written from both Delilah and Gavins Point of View. I keep saying it, more than 1 pov adds more depth to a story – at least, that’s how I experience it most of the time – and this one was no exception to that. We read from Delilah’s pov, her outsider view on Gavin, ‘house’ and everything that’s going to happen. It’s obvious ‘house’ isn’t happy with Delilah being present and then there are a lot of dangerous events happening that build up from ‘innocent’ to ‘life dangering’ and it makes her terrified.
And then there’s Gavin’s pov, who grew up inside and with ‘house’. With ‘house’ being the only ‘family’ he’s known aside from his mom from when he was really young. He was always loved by house during his upbringing and he never knew differently. His ‘view’ and experience on everything happening in this book is so different from Delilah’s experience because of his way of upbringing, so that’s a really exciting thing to be reading as well; reading both their pov’s.
Gavin is the one that has the most character development throughout the book I think. He has always had positive/loving feelings towards house and now he’s getting acquainted with an unknown and ugly side of ‘house’. Something he always loved is turning into something that has him terrified now. His confrontation with this all and the way he processes all that’s happening is extremely well written I think. I lived alongside these characters on such an intense level while reading this book and was praying for a happy ending. But this book doesn’t promise a happy ending, the way everything will unfold, damn. ‘House’ is determined to keep Gavin and to keep Delilah away from him, any means necessary.
I love romance and the romance in this story is really beautifully written; constructive and believable. The romance is in perfect balance with the horror elements of the story I think. It makes the connection/bond you create with the characters deeper and therefore the horror moments have an even more intense impact while reading. And because of this romance the characters wouldn’t have developed so well as they do now. Their development is critical to the story-line development and everything is, like I said, really well balanced out; the romance and the creepiness. And Gavin.. well, what to say about him hehe. I totally get Delilah’s facination for him!
To Delilah, Gavin’s always been mysterious and interesting. He was that boy from ‘that’ house but never showed himself outside of school so she never got to really know him unfortunately. Before Delilah went to another school she already thought he was cute and now she’s back at his high school after all those years and when she bumps into him at school, she finds the fascination from all those years ago has turned into a huge crush and there’s an intense attraction brewing between the two of them. Gavin is extremely curious about Delilah because he can’t understand her openness towards him, so he definitely wants to know more about her too. They get to know each other better and it evolves in a beautiful romance. This romance is romantic, honest, funny from time to time, believable and feels very realistic. It’s cute, sweet and ‘sexy as hell’ at the same time. It’s a pleasure to read the start of this romance and see it develop throughout the book.
There were some comments to be made about the book as well;
- the repeating of the descriptions of Gavin and his hands; that he’s got big hands and how tall he is. Once I know how a character looks like, I don’t mind if some things get talked about again later on in the book, but to me, it felt a bit too much sometimes, especially in the first 50% of the book. His long demeanor and large hands were talked about A LOT haha. I understand it, to a certain extent, you know. She falls in love with him, is attracted to him and fantasizes about him so I get where she’s coming from, but it just felt a bit too much for me. It was something that stood out to me, whereas I normally don’t experience this in a notable way while reading a book.
- The first part of the book was about Delilah and Gavin getting to know each other, falling in love with each other and meeting ‘house’ which was okay, but because of that, the angst-level was quite small, which you don’t really expect from a horror book, even a YA one. And in the second part of the book, everything is going down at lightning speed. I get why the authors chose to do this, so you get to know the characters better at first and ‘house’ as well. But I guess the book would’ve been even better if there was some more angst present from the beginning of the book as well.
I can’t say anything other then; this book is genially written and I enjoyed it immensely! The story-line is really exciting, captivating and original. It’s romantic and it gets extremely creepy, which I loooove! Especially the second part of the book is a fast-paced read, but I was highjacked right from the start, to be honest, and just flew through the pages. Couldn’t stop anymore once I started reading. But beware; know what you’ll start when picking up this book because it isn’t for the lighthearted ;). This book is a huge asset to the YA horror genre I think and I obviously recommend it to anyone who likes an original concept, a great and captivating story-line with a delicious whiff of romance woven throughout the story.