I am a little behind on my reviews at the moment and oddly, I had actually forgotten that I had read this one which about sums it up. Advertised as fodder for fans of Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter, this debut novel from Charles Lambert glitters with mystery and spookiness but when the smoke clears, very little of substance remains. Centring around Morgan, the scarred owner of a large mansion, The Children’s Home feels almost more like a collection of short stories, or perhaps a cluster of set pieces, rather than a cohesive novel. Perhaps it is its short length which prevents the threads being drawn together but it feels more like an interesting idea that has spiralled beyond the control of its creator and then abandoned. I finished it with a sense of being cheated – my grandmother would have described it as a ‘knotless thread’.
Morgan was a recluse, hiding from his servants and eschewing all mirrors, but then his new housekeeper Engel arrives to take care of him – he assumes that she has been sent by his sister Rebecca. It is after this that all of the babies start arriving, left on the doorstep or toddling there on their own little legs. They do not see the horror of Morgan’s face and so he loves them but their true nature is unclear. Gradually, the back story of each of the characters unfurls but they never quite intersect. Lambert shows huge talent and potential here but the draughtsmanship of The Children’s Home is seriously askew. A promising beginning flops into a conclusion leaving the reader with a feeling of time wasted.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Published by Scribner on January 5th 2016
Genres: Family, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, General, Magical Realism
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