- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Angry Robot (February 4, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007345046
- ISBN-13: 978-0007345045
- Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,650,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The World House Paperback – February 4, 2010
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There is a box. Inside that box is a door. Beyond that door is a house. In some rooms forests grow. In some, prisoners wait. At the top of the house, a prisoner sits behind a locked door waiting for a key to turn. The day that happens, the world will end! File under: Modern Fantasy [Worlds within Worlds | Prison Break | Exploring the Unknown | Dark Powers]
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Rather a long time.
The introduction of the myriad characters (a contemporary Brit, a Spanish thief from the 1930s, an American socialite from the 1920s, an alcoholic musician and his stripper friend from the 1970s, a little girl with Autism, and Alan from Florida) is a lengthy process. Lengthy, but well-written with interesting characters.
Then it takes more time to learn about the house: a place which apparently has no rules and where the laws of nature, physics and time are only suggestions. Again, well-written with interesting things going on.
Once Adams has you informed of the world and people in it, he accelerates the pace (somewhat erratically) to crescendo and then, poof, it is over. Or is it?
A house wrapped up in a door inside a box
I love the notion of random people from different places and times being thrown together inside a house of infinite dimension hidden inside a box. (It felt cool just writing that line) I also like that there is a specific trigger for transportation to the house -- be in possession of the box at a time of immediate peril. Cool stuff and also the only well-defined aspect of the house.
Once inside the house, things are a little (OK, a lot) more fluid. A living game of snakes and ladders, a library infested with bookworms the size of housepets, a bathroom housing an ocean, a jungle in a greenhouse and other rooms of varied content and scope are all connected by invisible portals. Travel within the rooms is challenging. Traveling between them, troublesome; and escaping entirely seems impossible. Except that it can be done and Alan knows this.
Of all his fellow visitors, Alan is the only one who actively sought the box and was aware of its' secrets a priori. When we finally find out why Alan isn't like the others, it isn't a "Holy crap, I didn't see that coming!" moment, nor is it a "Meh, totally saw it coming." It is more of a "Yeah, OK, I see how that makes sense." turn of events. It takes a long time to get there and is a very short journey from there to the cliff where we are left hanging at the end.
The lengthy preamble, seemingly bizarre interludes and cliffhanger ending may be off-putting for some. The pacing and interludes did try my patience at times, but that patience was rewarded. There was interesting stuff happening to interesting people and the writing was good, so I kept reading. These dalliances (as they aren't vital to the telling) never made me feel like the story was dragging, but rather that it was just moving leisurely and we would "get there when we get there."
As for the unfinished business at the end of the book -- I bought the sequel.
(originally posted at cheffojeffo.wordpress.com)
Unfortunately, the whole exercise seems pointless. Why should we care what happens to these people as the author does not have the skill to pull this off successfully.
This is as boring as listening to someone describing in detail a nightmare they had (chaotic and clumsy at the same time).
And to think he wrote a sequel. No way would I encourage this to continue.
The World House by Guy Adams starts off well, describing the unsuccessful antiquarian Miles as he hopelessly tries to get an extension on his gambling debts. When the perspective switches to a different time and era with the Prohibition-era debutante Penelope, I was still with the author. I even stayed interested when the story switched yet again to Kesara, a Spanish girl trying to stay alive on the streets, but it's at this point that the frequent perspective shifts and seemingly unconnected narratives began to grate a bit. Fortunately, around that time, there's a mysterious and fascinating interlude that doesn't seem to have much to do with the rest of the story (yet), and then Guy Adams introduces Tom, a bar singer who looks to have been modelled on Tom Waits (notice the bar is situated on "Ninth and Hennepin"...), which was enough to keep me reading a while longer again. However, after this, two more seemingly unrelated characters enter the novel: an autistic girl, and a professor who is obsessed with finding a certain mysterious box...
Once every character has finally been introduced to the story, The World House continues as a series of mostly unconnected narratives, with everyone trying to survive the surreal environment of the house. These adventures are entertaining enough to read, but unfortunately The World House takes too long to get to the point and bring everything together. There are some clues and links here and there, and a few characters meet up, but mostly you still appear to be reading a series of seemingly unconnected stories about people who are all trying to survive separate parts of the same bizarre environment.
If you've read the OTHERLAND novels by Tad Williams, you may remember the big chunk of River of Blue Fire where it seemed like a new, weird virtual reality was introduced every other chapter. These were all well-described, original, trippy and fun to read, but they didn't advance the overall plot much, making that book the weakest installment of the series. Most of The World House by Guy Adams has that same feeling: while it's surreal and action-packed, it feels like there's just no point to much of it.
When everything finally starts to come together towards the end of the novel, The World House suddenly gets quite interesting. The final revelation of what's really going on is actually nothing short of great. Unfortunately, before you get to that point, Guy Adams spends about a quarter of The World House setting up the various characters, and most of the rest of the book putting them through their paces in the house, leaving too little time to wrap things up. Even though the separate story-lines are well-written and never boring, and it eventually turns out that, yes, everything did have a point and a connection, what comes before that point may be so frustrating for some readers that they don't even make it to the eventual pay-off.
Still, if the plot summary of this novel strikes your interest and you don't mind taking not one but several long and winding roads to reach a satisfying conclusion, you may want to check out The World House.
Most recent customer reviews
Guy Adams will take you on the ride of your life.Read more