- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Titan Books (September 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1783298030
- ISBN-13: 978-1783298037
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 43 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #600,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Death House Paperback – September 1, 2015
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"When I reached the end, I was devastated and sad. Sad because it was over, devastated because the ending was perfect." - Word Gurgle
"The ending was powerful and just another sign that Sarah Pinborough is one of the best we got." - Dying World News
"Pinborough delivers an irresistible cast here, from our main couple and their friends to antagonist Jake and his goons, to the mysterious Matron and her nurses who treat the children with little to no emotion. It has the feel of GIRL, INTERRUPTED mixed with OUTBREAK, and while the horror is latent in each scene, at its core THE DEATH HOUSE is a dark love story with a heart-wrenching finale that showcases Toby's integrity." - The Horror Fiction Review
"Dark and touching, you’ll grow to care about these captives and share their desperation as they search for answers." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Pinborough’s The Death House provides a compelling celebration of hope in the direstof worlds" - Blog Critics
"The best young adult book I have ever read” - SF Reader
"An amazing, heart-rending novel of love, loss, and hope." - Fandom Post
"The Death House is bleak yet beautiful, dark yet full of warmth, compassion, and understanding. Sarah Pinborough deserves all the acclaim and accolades that have been coming her way." - Dirge Magazine
"The perfect bittersweet mixture of suspense and first-love romance” - Pop Kernal
"The story flows effortlessly from the first page toward the achingly touching and beautifully written ending. It has been written so well that it immediately grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go (it'll be almost impossible for the reader to put this novel down). In my opinion, Sarah Pinborough's The Death House is an amazing achievement." - Rising Shadow
"Comes in quietly and leaves with the emotional impact of a wrecking ball." - Barnes & Noble
"Recommended, for those who want a dash of The Girl with All the Gifts with their The Fault in Our Stars." - Kirkus
"There’s more than enough to keep readers going through to the end." - Entertainment Buddha
“I loved THE DEATH HOUSE. It's moving and totally involving. Pinborough writes with vividness and emotional resonance. I couldn't put it down.” STEPHEN KING
"A marvelously creepy and engaging novel" - Count Gore
"You turn the pages begging for the story to continue ever further and not reach its poetic but terrible conclusion so fast. It will leave you in tears." - Love Reading
"There are curveballs and plot twists galore, and more than a handful of tear-jerkers as the story progresses, but all of it is crafted with a care and attention to detail that defines what a good narrative and cracking tale it really is." - British Fantasy Society
"Pinborough layers a beautiful account of that first, maddening, youthful love, alongside the friendship and brotherhood only found in those doomed to die together. It's poignant and tear-jerking: the ending is stunning, and I haven't cried this much at a book in a long time." - Strange Horizons
"Sarah Pinborough has created an incredible book with The Death House. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances highlighting the power of humanity....The writer's deft touch leaves the reader emotional. You might feel like your heart has been stomped on." - Geek Syndicate
"The Death House is sad, stealthily creepy, emotionally haunting and quite brilliant." - SFF World
"Unsettling, frightening and in the end uplifting, The Death House has stayed with me" - Jenny Colgan
“Sarah Pinborough’s writing is flawless, and in this one she’s got a mastery of mood that wraps around the psyche with dark little tendrils to burrow in and squeeze. Brilliant work, truly top-notch.” - Horror Fiction
“a bleak and beautiful climax” Barnes & Noble SFF blog
About the Author
Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed horror, thriller and YA author. She has written for New Tricks on the BBC and has an original horror film in development. Sarah was the 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. She has also been short-listed for a World Fantasy Award. She lives in London.
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Here is a dystopia we-the-reader don’t even see, don’t have explained to us beyond the barest of bare-bones basics. There’s no scrappy rebellion against the system, no Team ThisGuy and Team ThatGuy ‘ship wars.
In this world, kids are routinely blood-tested for some never-named disease / genetic anomaly. The ones whose results come back as ‘Defective’ are, with no warning, picked up by agents in vans and whisked away to a boarding school on an island. There, they just … wait. Every now and then, kids get sick and are taken upstairs to the sanatorium, never to be seen again.
So many questions! The symptoms of the disease seem to vary, the kids share rumors about its effects and history, but none of them know, so neither do we. The nurses and teachers, overseen by Matron, are cool and detached. Lessons are perfunctory. Socialization is pretty much left to fend for itself.
Both Narnia and Lord of the Flies are frequently mentioned by the characters throughout the course of the story, and perfectly so because elements of each figure as prominent under- and over-tones to their own situation. The various dorms are their tribes, they have their own outcasts and troublemakers and weirdos.
The protagonist, Toby, likes to skip his bedtime ‘vitamin’ to roam the big old house alone while everyone else sleeps. But that changes for him when a new girl, Clara, has the same habit, and he has to share his private night world.
Sarah Pinborough’s writing is flawless, and in this one she’s got a mastery of mood that wraps around the psyche with dark little tendrils to burrow in and squeeze. Brilliant work, truly top-notch.
Not without its flaws, for sure, but the pluses definitely outweigh any nagging negatives. This one will stay with you for a long time and haunt you - the overall affect, like the northern lights described within, is brilliant. A must-read.
And, sure enough, she goes on to teach our brooding, depressed protagonist to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures. He learns to dance. He sees the Northern Lights. Et cetera.
Since it is a coming of age story, of course there's a bully. And of course he eventually stands up to the bully.
They have sex, because that's the pinnacle of coming of age stories.
The elements that could have elevated this out of stereotype unfortunately aren't developed enough. The "teenagers are all doomed to die" setting isn't entirely novel (Mercury Under My Tongue by Sylvain Trudel about a bunch of teenagers in a cancer ward is another take) but still an interesting twist. Unfortunately, not much is done with it, considering it is a constant weight.
There is a cast of characters who remain little more than one notes: Tom, Jake, Will, Louis. There are a few glimpses of more depth for some of them (for instance, Louis at the very end) but not enough to counterbalance the pure stereotype of the rest of the book.
Some other reasons didn't like the lack of explanation/exposition but that didn't bother me. What is a "Defective", exactly? What happens when they change? Why are the symptoms seemingly different for each of them? Why are they kept alive but in isolation? I'm fine with not knowing the details. (Though it is a little bit implausible that the characters themselves wouldn't given technology. It would be like a modern person not knowing at least a little bit about HIV/AIDS.)
There is one, however, one massive plot twist with the Matron that is unexplained (and a bit inexplicable, to be honest, unless you're willing to assume that every government bureaucrat everywhere is a latent sociopathic murderer).
I will say, however, that I really enjoyed Pinborough's writing style and will read more by her.