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The House of Discarded Dreams Paperback – November 16, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lyrical writing and rich imagination compensate for loose plotting in this quirky, joyous fantasy. College student Vimbai moves to a house on the New Jersey shore to escape her bickering parents. Her housemates are a bit unusual: Maya is being followed by a pack of mystical animals, and Felix has a black hole sitting on his head. As the house drifts out to sea, Vimbai's grandmother's ghost starts doing housework and giving advice. Felix draws a "Psychic Energy Baby" out of the phone lines, and the house expands to include forests and lakes. Vimbai's biggest concern is whether missing classes will affect her application to grad school. Somehow, the overall effect is dreamily compelling rather than farcical, as Sedia (The Secret History of Moscow) shows how competing natural and supernatural worldviews can enrich each other.
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From Booklist

Vimbai, who studies invertebrate zoology because of a fascination with horseshoe crabs, moves into the house on the beach in order to escape her Zimbabwean immigrant mother’s intensity; she finds something strange and beautiful. There are two roommates: Zach, who has a pocket universe where his hair should be, and Maya, who works in an Atlantic City casino. Vimbai’s dead grandmother haunts them, a ghostly presence who tells Zimbabwean children’s stories and does the dishes. When the house comes unmoored and drifts away to sea, Vimbai must bargain with ghostly horseshoe crabs, untangle the many and varied stories that have come loose in the vast worlds of the house, and find a way home. From Maya’s urban nightmares to Vimbai’s African urban legends, the house is filled with danger and beauty and unexpected magic. On one level, this is a reflection of ancient fairy tales and legends; on the other, it’s a perfectly straightforward tale of finding oneself in a bizarre world. Either way, Sedia’s prose is a pleasure, her story a lovely place to have spent time, even with the horrors her characters face. --Regina Schroeder
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: PRIME BOOKS LLC (November 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607012286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607012283
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Going in to the the novel, I did not know what to expect. There was no foundation of prior reading experience for it to fall upon, just a clean slate that it could just as easily slip away from. Or, it could remain firm as a beginning foundation for later works. I had high hopes that it would be the latter, that I would enjoy the novel. All of this almost came crashing down in the first twenty pages, when I found the prose grating and difficult to read for any sustained amount of time. I was tempted to put the book down then, but for whatever reason, perhaps a bit of tolerance that I lacked in the past year, kept me reading.

Eventually everything snapped into place. The once jarring prose that threatened to eject me from the book every few sentences suddenly blossomed into a flowing prose that lured me in and propelled me through the book. The imagery of it drew beautiful dream vistas, impossible landscapes tucked away inside a small beach house free floating somewhere in the ocean, and the chaotic blend of modern and ageless in stories told to calm a psychic energy baby festooned with amputated phantom limbs. The story is slow to unfold, taking its time to reveal to the characters that this house filled with their discarded dreams is not as benign as they assume, but the pace is comfortable and works well. On a negative level, the dialogue came across as stilted at times and this clashed with the flow of the narrative enough that it threw me from the story on more than one occasion.

Vimbai and her roommates, Maya and Felix, are the central characters in the novel, but they are part of an extended cast that is as diverse as it is strange.
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Format: Paperback
I don't really have any cute stories about why I picked The House of Discarded Dreams up besides a recommendation from a friend. I have noticed that my friends seem to have remarkably good taste in books across the board and happily I found that to be the case yet again.

So, the story starts with Vimbai moving out of her parent's house and into the House in the Dunes with Maya and Felix. Unfortunately, the house goes out with the tide and begins to become bigger on the inside. The house begins to fill up with more creatures than what were there to start with and things become slightly creepy.

I have exactly one gripe. Sometimes the prose seemed emotionally removed from the characters. This did clear up as the book progressed (which leads me to think that it's being used to reflect Vimbai's emotional investment in the people around her), but sometimes it was a little off putting.

Fortunately I completely forgot about that minor hiccup in my fascination with the characters. Vimbai's perception of her relationship with her family (and other people) and how it changes over the course of exploring the new landscapes within the house. Each new space within the house and how it carried some special significance to each character seemed like an interesting reversal of the "house that destroys" trope one frequently sees in horror. I would go so far as to say that some parts of the house illustrate the home as a place of slow stagnation, especially those places with the catfish. I did like how this seemed to function as an allegory for Vimbai's relationship with her mother. I loved how well and how thoroughly her character had been thought out with regards to her relationship with her family, her ancestry, random classmates and her housemates.
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Format: Paperback
Ekaterina Sedia, over the course of only a few novels, has assembled a body of work that has continually left me in awe of her creative and daring power. Some authors use mythology to merely accentuate their worlds, while Sedia makes mythology grow and change to her whims in lyrical and poetic ways that make them feel like all her own creation.

If you think you've read it all in Fantasy than think again. Sedia's latest The House of Discarded Dreams gathers odd mythology from around the world to create one of the most unique novels in Speculative Fiction today. Sedia shuns conventionality for a story that seemingly has no connective tissue to form something more than the sum of all its parts. It is the story of a young woman trying to find herself in a country that doesn't feel like her own. It is a modern melding of old and modern mythology and fears. It is a story of dreams and nightmares coming to life.

The story centers around Vimbai, a college student and daughter of African immigrants. Vimbai is drawn to a house in the sand dunes of New Jersey as an escape from her family as she searches for who she wants to be. Sedia brings some of her own experiences as an immigrant coming to America and living in New Jersey to the fore, but lots of research shows though as well. Africa has a mythology very unlike the style most Fantasy readers are use to, which makes The House of Discard Dreams a very impactful and original read.

Vimbai moves in with two other people who are given sketchy backgrounds, at best, one of which, Felix, has some sort of black hole in place of his hair and the other, Maya, a bartender in Atlantic City, who is the epitome of distant for much of the novel.
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