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Homebody: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Orson Scott Card
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Damaged Houses

A master craftsman, Don Lark could fix everything except what mattered, his own soul. After tragedy claimed the one thing he loved, he began looking for dilapidated houses to buy, renovate, and resell at a profit--giving these empty shells the second chance at life he denied himself.

Damaged Souls

Then in a quiet Southern town, Lark finds his biggest challenge: a squalid yet sturdy mansion that has suffered decades of abuse at the hands of greedy landlords and transient tenants. While two charming old neighbor ladies ply him with delicious cooking, they offer dire warnings about the house's evil past. But there is something about this building that pushes Lark on, even as its enchantments grow increasingly ominous. Will finishing the house offer Lark redemption, or unleash the darkest forces of damnation upon him?

Editorial Reviews Review

This romantic ghost story relies on a familiar horror backbone: a stranger with a tragic past moves into an old house that also has a tragic past, and is forced to reckon with the supernatural forces that dwell there. In Homebody, the stranger is an itinerant architect-builder who makes a lonely living by purchasing fixer-uppers, renovating them, and selling them. The house he buys in Greensboro, North Carolina, (where Orson Scott Card lives, in real life) has three mysteries attached to it: a tunnel in the basement, an attractive female squatter who refuses to leave, and a trio of weird doomsayers who live next door.

Card has a clear, well-honed writing style, full of human warmth--a style that is especially effective in the development of the central character, and in details of tools and techniques for renovating an old house. His approach to murder, danger, and threatening forces is so free of closeness or oppression that one might call it "anti-gothic." In an interview, he said, "I am completely uninterested in exploring evil. Evil (and weak and wicked) people are all evil (or weak, or wicked) in the same boring ways. But good people are infinitely interesting in the ways they manage to be good despite all the awful circumstances of their lives."

Homebody is a pleasant tale about the triumph of love over evil, with a couple of bizarre twists to give it spice. (Hint: don't read the Kirkus Review if you want to keep the plot a surprise.) --Fiona Webster

From Publishers Weekly

Like its haunted-house centerpiece, Card's third dark fantasy novel (after The Lost Boys and Treasure Box) has great potential that shines through its superfluous detail. The Bellamy mansion is a venerable Victorian pile that has seen better days when it catches the eye of Don Lark, a widower who "turns his loneliness and grief into the restoration of beautiful old houses." Don's labors to restore the mansion to its former grandeur introduce him to a succession of women receptive to his emotional needs, including an amorous real estate agent, three dotty elderly neighbors who urge him to demolish the place and Sylvie Delaney, a squatter who has lived in the house secretly for a decade. All have been drawn to the mansion and its legacy of corrupted splendor through the shame of their private lives?and one turns out to be ghost whose past troubles are a touchstone for analogies between Don's home improvements and the need to rebuild dignity and character. Card's imaginative use of the haunted-house theme to explore the haunting power of guilt and remorse is deflated by facile observations on the theological significance of human suffering. All of his characters are sensitive studies of the crippling effects of emotional trauma, but several serve no purpose other than to speed the sometimes sluggish plot along with timely advice and miraculous feats of magic. These shortcomings aside, the novel is a powerful tale of healing and redemption that skillfully balances supernatural horrors with spiritual uplift. Film rights to Fresco Pictures.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 511 KB
  • Print Length: 454 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061093998
  • Publisher: Harper (March 5, 2013)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B72CFN0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,653 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Supernatural suspense not horror February 6, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you like stories with a scary supernatural element, but are uncomfortable with satanic evil material, this is a book you can enjoy. I liked this book; it is kind of scary without making you feel dirty. Not as much of a thinker as many of his books, but maybe more than most horror stories. Not more or less predictable than most horror. Good book, not his best, but worth a read.
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42 of 53 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The "Wrong" Orson Scott Card March 4, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was written by the Orson Scott Card who wrote Saints, not the one who wrote the Ender Wiggins series or the one who introduced us to the Maker. If you love the ruthless logic of Bean (in Card's latest winner, Ender's Shadow), or the wit of Lovelock, or the compelling alternate universe inhabited by Alvin, you will surely be disappointed with Homebody.
Homebody was written by an author well outside his lyrical or logical core. The characters are well-considered and true to their natures, but none of them are people you'd want to have a conversation with, much less live with for the length of a book. The characters are deliciously flawed, but Card seems unable to find the hook needed to make us care.
Card's obsession with loss and the grieving process led to a couple of extraordinary works (like Xenocide) and a couple of literary duds (like Lost Boys). This definitely falls into the latter category. In the process, he's trying to write into genres where his style and abilities are ill matched. He's successfully equaled or exceeded the masters like Clark and Heinlein in future-fiction that captures the imagination. He's done a good turn matching Lewis and Zelazny by creating Alvin's magical reality. But, when it comes to a good ghost story or a contemporary supernatural tale, Card should leave it to King or Koontz.
If you want a ghost, pass on Card; if you want Card, one of the country's best living authors, try a different title.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good "haunted house" yarn, but not typical Card June 25, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In "Homebody," we find Don Lark, running from the pain of his lost family. Don finds a wreck of a house and begins restoring it - only to find that there is a power within its walls that will alternately terrify and tempt him.
Haunted houses are old hat, but Card adds a new twist that makes the story fresh and interesting. The story zags in directions you weren't expecting, and the characters are all quite vivid. A good read from a great talent.
This book will appeal to fans of Stephen King, John Saul and Dean Koontz, but, oddly enough, I'm willing to bet that Card fans won't like it much at all. I've read a few other novels by Card from his Fantasy and Science Fiction works, and I find that he does very well at those, and didn't quite do as well on this in comparison. Objectively, however, I managed to ignore who had written the book and enjoyed it as a new twist on Haunted Houses in its own right.
Dedicated Orson Scott Card fans should give this a pass, but people who'd like a new take on ghostly tales will definately enjoy this one.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Ghost Tale! September 29, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Card spins another good ghost tale (see Treasure Box) about Dan, a man with a troubled past (he blames himself for the death of his daughter) who has given up on relationships and now makes a living buying old rundown houses and restoring them.

Dan comes across the old Bellamy house which was built a century earlier by a man who wanted to give the perfect house to his wife. The couple were big society people and after they died, the house fell into the hands of various disreputable individuals and became a speakeasy and a brothel until ending up as an apartment house for college students.

The house has been deserted for about 10 years and the closest neighbors are two "wierd" old women who live in what was once the Bellamy house's carriage house.

Dan buys the house and finds that it is not as abandoned as he thought. Additionally, the wierd neighbors prefer that he destroy the house rather than fix it up. As the book progresses we see that the house in not just an inanimate object but possibly a living thing.

During the book Dan has to wrestle with his past and becomes the "crying-post" for his troubled real estate agent as well as his houseguest.

I really enjoyed this book and held back from giving it 5 stars only because I thought that Dan missed too many obvious clues about the "secret" of his houseguest and that I would have liked to have learned more about the house in its glory days.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was TOO good for me February 6, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I like Clive Barker and et. al., and I love Card's other books, so I thought I'd probably enjoy this. I did, but the problem was that I was really uncomfortable reading it, because I identified TOO closely with the character.
With Barker's stuff, it is easy to read, because you are always detached from the characters, but this book pulls you in so quickly, that you really feel for this guy, and so when he hurts, I hurt too.
I like my "horror" books to be light, and this definately wasn't. I realize I'm praising by faint criticism, so judge for yourself how you like your horror.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Competent, but bland January 13, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Normally I like Orson Scott Card. In fact, the Ender series tops my list for best SF series ever. Homebody, however, is a disappointment. The plot is bland, the cliches abound, and it's not very moving or scary. The writing, as in all of Card's work, is clear and well presented. But, alas, here Card is just moving his pen for no reason.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good read!
I normally prefer the series which allow more time to delve into different characters and a bit meatier telling of the story, but I enjoyed this book and recommend for a quick... Read more
Published 6 months ago by CF
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Card has been a favorite author for many years so, although I was non-plussed at page 100, I read half the book before succumbing to disappointment. Read more
Published 14 months ago by K. ThrasherThrasher Books
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved this story!
Homebody was an excellent book. I am a fan of Orson Scott Card's work and this did not disappoint! Great characters, great story.
Published 16 months ago by Heather Bella
4.0 out of 5 stars A good little read.
It's nothing really special, not compared to most of Card's work, but it's a good little read none the less.
Published 18 months ago by Mandi
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick, spooky fun
A nice easy read that was just spooky enough to be fun but not scary.

The ending was a bit quick, and the reason the house was how it was didn't seem too clear. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jennifer Kyrnin
1.0 out of 5 stars Felt Like A Romance Novel
I am a strong OSC fan and have read most of his works (which makes me sad because I love most of his stories and wish there were many more). I did NOT like this one. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Carol Etgen
5.0 out of 5 stars Homebody
A thrilling novel of complex morality and characters so wonderfully developed I wanted to enjoy more of their lives after it ended. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Druidgal
5.0 out of 5 stars A Ghost Story
Card is the best science fiction writer today. I have every science fiction book he has done. I would not have thought he could write a ghost story. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Joseph Alford
3.0 out of 5 stars fine, but not his finest
I love Orson Scott Card and buy everything he writes, but this book seemed a bit forced and unnatural. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Julie Darby
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Talking, not Enough Doing
Either Orson Scott Card's "Homebody" isn't my cup of tea, or he just didn't do as good a job of writing it as he usually does. Read more
Published 22 months ago by David A. Lessnau
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More About the Author

Orson Scott Card is the bestselling author best known for the classic Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow and other novels in the Ender universe. Most recently, he was awarded the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in Young Adult literature, from the American Library Association. Card has written sixty-one books, assorted plays, comics, and essays and newspaper columns. His work has won multiple awards, including back-to-back wins of the Hugo and the Nebula Awards-the only author to have done so in consecutive years. His titles have also landed on 'best of' lists and been adopted by cities, universities and libraries for reading programs. The Ender novels have inspired a Marvel Comics series, a forthcoming video game from Chair Entertainment, and pre-production on a film version. A highly anticipated The Authorized Ender Companion, written by Jake Black, is also forthcoming.Card offers writing workshops from time to time and occasionally teaches writing and literature at universities.Orson Scott Card currently lives with his family in Greensboro, NC.

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