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The Sorcerer's House

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  994 ratings  ·  178 reviews
In a contemporary town in the American midwest where he has no connections, Bax, an educated man recently released from prison, is staying in a motel. Hewrites letters to his brother and to others, including a friend still in jail, to whom he progressively reveals the intriguing pieces of a strange and fantastic narrative. When he meets a real estate agent who tells him he ...more
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by Tor Books (first published March 1st 2010)
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Warriors by George R.R. MartinThe Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth ScottThe Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie RyanSuccubus Shadows by Richelle MeadThe Sorcerer's House by Gene Wolfe
Best books of March, 2010
4th out of 19 books — 24 voters
The Sorcerer's House by Gene WolfeReincarnation by Fred Lit YuThe Shadow of the Torturer by Gene WolfeLa garra del Conciliador by Gene WolfeSoldier of the Mist by Gene Wolfe
Best Gene Wolfe Books
1st out of 5 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

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Caveat: This book is dedicated to me, so I may well be immediately biased in its favour.

It's an epistolary novel. Very dark, very strange, dislocating and dream-like. An ex-prisoner has inherited (or has he?) an abandoned house, containing a were-fox, a ghostly butler, and, possibly, the contents of the Tarot. Twins occur and reoccur, identities are exchanged, people are not what they appear to be...

I'm loving it, but am reading it only a few pages at a time, to make it last.


Right, I finished
I picked this up to read a couple of chapters, and ended up staying up to finish it. It's deceptively simple to read, to just race through: epistolary novel, check; unreliable narrator, check; creepy twins and doors to Faerie, check. It's Gene Wolfe, though, so you can bet it's not as simple as that, and reading other reviews -- particularly Neil Gaiman's, to whom the book is dedicated -- showed me I missed a few tricks. Which is fine: I like books with rereadability, even if I'm not really incl ...more
4 Stars

What a fun fantasy/fairy tale read, is The Sorcerer's House by Gene Wolfe. I had fun and was taken away from the very fist word to the last. For sheer reading pleasure, this novel would get full marks. This is a supernatural mystery with a strong fairytale like telling. Our protagonist Bax, is truly an unreliable narrator, and he confesses as much several times through out this book.

The writing style and quality is what separates this book from main stream fantasy. Wolfe is a master at pa
The Sorceror's House is a beautifully subtle new novel by master fantasy and SF author Gene Wolfe. The novel's protagonist is a recently released convict who, seemingly by complete coincidence, comes into possession of an abandoned house. As he moves in, he discovers that the house already has a few odd inhabitants...

A large part of the enjoyment of this novel is the process of discovery, as the protagonist slowly finds out more and more about the odd nature of the house and its inhabitants, as
This epistolary portal fantasy features a mysterious house and dreamlike crossovers into faerie, but also, unfortunately, a narrator with abnormal fear conditioning and a voice so flat that I thought of _The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time_ and wondered if Wolfe meant to suggest the character has Asperger's or some other problem. Certainly, unreliable narration and damaged characters are easy to find in his other books, and there's at least one moment in this novel where it's obvio ...more
Patrick Burgess
May 12, 2010 Patrick Burgess rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Neil Gaiman lovers (literarily, not literally, speaking), the unlucky... penpals?
Shelves: reviewed
Engaging and Evocative

A story painted with a patchwork of detailed corresponces between the protagonist and a handful of close acquaintances, I have to admit that I was at first a little put off because of this approach. Really, how well could any story be told in a form that's almost synonymous with "telling"?

I have been shamed. Yep, and happily so, because otherwise I'd have ripped the book to shreds with my teeth while kicking it with both legs, hissing and spitting all the while. Plus, it wa
It was super-fun; now "pure fun" and Gene Wolfe is something that is usually incongruent since his books like the awesome various Sun series are dark and demanding, but this one is just a zany novel end to end written as some 44 letters and an epilogue, most letters addressed by main hero Bax(ter) Dunn to his twin brother George or George's wife Millie, with several addressed to a former cellmate and several addressed by others mostly to Bax

A holder of 2 PhD's (for reasons to be discovered readi
Jeff Miller
Many of Gene Wolfe's books require your undivided attention because there can be so many layers and subtleties to what is going on.

This one is much more straight-forward, at least by Gene Wolfe's standards.

An epistolary novel that works quite well in that format. Part mystery, fairy story, fantasy it was not at all what I expected based on the title, but I should have known better.

The story involves Bax who has just been released from prison and ends up finding his way into a seemingly abandoned
Ranting Dragon

Gene Wolfe’s The Sorcerer’s House is a mystery, a thriller, and a fairytale. Baxter Dunn is about as honest as can be expected of an ex-con, and at the beginning he is just trying to start a new life for himself. Despite his twin brother’s refusal to help him get back on his feet, Baxter quickly acquires a house and some great big tracts of land. If you can believe him, both acquisitions were unintentional.

To Baxter’s surprise, the house included several a
In a small town somewhere in the American Midwest, recent parolee Bax Dunn has been staying in a dirtbag hotel where the manager not only opens his mail, but tries to cash his check, which through reading we discover is an allowance from his inheritance. Bax is strolling around and encounters an abandoned house, which he takes an immediate liking to.

As a highly educated man, he knows that he shouldn't just move in, but does, reasoning that he can probably convince the owner to let him stay for
Perry Whitford
Epistolary novel from the master of the narrative sleight of hand, set in a modern day haunted house, newly occupied (as a squatter) by an ambidextrous ex-con named Baxter. He writes a series of letters to his twin brother, whom he had previously embezzled, for which he earnt his prison sentence.

In unlikely circumstances the house becomes Baxter's by right, but he may not be the only occupant, as another set of twins -this time young boys- seem to live there with him; and the house itself appea
The mysteries I thought I had solved turned out to have different solutions, and I'm certain that a second reading will provide more to chew over. It feels like a straight story rather than one of Wolfe's mystical tapestries, but within the book are layers of puzzles, characterisation that is clear as a bell, occasional humour, genuine spookiness and the remarkable way in which he makes hoary old cliches and tropes seem new and strange again.

Did I mention what it's about at all? It's an epistola
The house of shifting size, with doors that may lead to other worlds -- not an original device, but always an interesting one. Unfortunately the setting and related magical characters are much stronger than the "normal" ones, creating an oddly uneven story. The first half, which explored the nature of the house and its magic in a more subtle, gradual way was much better than the second half, where Wolfe tried to get the plot moving. That was rather convoluted, and weakened by the author's diffic ...more
Jennifer Juilano
I was very interested to read this book as Neil Gaiman had mentioned he was reading it. As I enjoy what Mr. Gaiman writes, I hoped I would enjoy something he was reading. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

The narrative was through letters between the characters describing what had happened and the views of those not involved directly. The twists and turns the storyline took upon itself didn't add false directions but rather seemed to make the story drag on longer than it needed to.
The only thing that I find dissatisfactory about the book is its blatant Madonna/whore complex, because those are the only types of women that we're shown. Which is too bad really, because otherwise, the book is quite good.
He deftly handles the conceit of the story told through letters, although it limits the suspense he can add in.
I do like that the mysteries pile on top of one another until they finally all start to make sense like a rose finally unfolding in its proper way.
Lori (Hellian)
A fun fast entertaining read from Wolfe? Yes! Totally different from his New Sun series which was absolute genius, and one I intend to reread again. Certain images from that have remained with me and it's been over 15 years since I read. That's why it's a 5 star for me.

I enjoyed this one immensely, the reason it gets 3 stars is that I don't think it will stick with me. But I highly recommend for any Wolfe lover!
An epistolary novel comprised mostly of letters written by Baxter Dunn, who finds himself owner of the house in question, together with the occasional replies to his letters. As always with Wolfe, every single detail is important and much of the story occurs in the spaces between the events of which we're actually told.

Probably not to everyone's taste, but myself, I loved it.
I read this one slowly, so as to savor it. It's a tantalizing story of twins, a mysterious house, ghosts, and strange creatures. I loved it to bits, although its ambiguity and the occasional unreliableness of the narrators may frustrate some readers.
Isabel Chan
This book is a quick read that gracefully unfolds as the story is told. I almost immediately wanted to start re-reading the book to see how the beginning ties into the end. It is infinitely clever and although not entirely original, it has the most lovely cadence and creativity.

I love the way that the story was told in a series of letters that get interrupted and can meander in the way that letters often do. The strangest thing was the seamless way the each letter transforms into a piece of the
Great book, compelling writing that lures the reader into a strange world. Not as cryptic as other books by Gene Wolfe but enough riddles to make you wonder what's real and what's not.
This is an odd read - both because it's an epistolary novel, and because it's telling a very odd story. I strongly suspect it's a love it or hate it novel. I quite liked it!
The Sorceror's House is beginner's Gene Wolfe. The language is simple and straightforward with none of Wolfe's trademark OED verbiage. The ending has fewer loose ends to pursue, there are fewer disconcerting passages and moments, and there is at least one obvious interpretation to the happenings to the book.

Of course, this is Gene Wolfe, so what appears simple never is. The book is all about the unreliable narrator and why he is narrating. Mythology, character, and identity all intertwine in com
Dec 10, 2014 Richie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jon Chapman
Recommended to Richie by: Neil
"The Sorcerer's House" by Gene Wolfe is a puzzle that expands the deeper into it that you climb. It is a compilation of correspondences from and pertaining to Baxter Dunn - An academic recently released from imprisonment on fraud charges. Bax finds himself the unlikely recipient of an old, spooky house of local legend. When things start going "bump" in the night, however, Bax quickly learns that he is the benefactor of a whole lot more than he bargained for.

I will not reveal any additional plot
Aug 14, 2014 M added it

Easily one of Wolfe's more lucid novels that at times smacks more of the lighter styles of Gaiman, perhaps coincidentally this book being dedicated to the same, and less of Wolfe's notorious shtick of being seemingly directly antagonistic towards his reader. However this is still Wolfe and despite this being a light and charming tale the reader is still left with a fair amount of puzzling to do; I'm sure it would not be possible for Wolfe to have it otherwise. To me it seems that the usual dens
Oct 14, 2011 Joshua rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Good read, and a relatively easy one for Wolfe. The mysteries are concentrated to a few choice issues, rather than spread out all over. (Re: the Latro books, or any of the Sun books.) I'd actually recommend this as a good, gentle introduction to Wolfe.

Highlights of this as an intro to Wolfe:
Being a collection of letters, it has a wide range of voices to it (A scholar, an inmate, a rich man's trophy wife, a psychic) and showcases what would otherwise take a fair amount of Wolfe novels read to no
Sara Q
Jun 08, 2012 Sara Q rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sara Q by: Neil
This is a 5-star / 1-star book for me. The 1-star reasons have stayed with me the most, so I'm giving it 2 stars. First the 5-star: it's a great story, with crazy characters and delightful little surprises and moments. A modern fantasy story that combines both magic and cell phones and urban myths and fairy tales.

The 1-star: it's set up as an epistolary novel (everything is told through letters) but that device becomes very tired halfway through the book, and many of the dialogues are recounted
Eric Wisdahl
The story in this book is told through a collection of letters. This idea is certainly not new, but it does possibly introduce a new element to Wolfe's work. As is common among many of Wolfe's novels, we must at least assume that it is possible that we have an unreliable narrator (or narrators, or curator). As is often the case, we must also assume that important events are probably happening "off-camera". The main question to ask with this style of story telling is, how much of the story should ...more
Sep 11, 2012 Rachel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Originally reviewed on RED Book Reviews.

Story: Baxter Dunn just got out of prison, and he's destitute. But it just so happens that someone left him a very big, very strange house. And then he meets lots of ladies who help him, and finds a mysterious device which finds fish and money for him. And then it gets weirder and weirder until the end.

Thoughts: This was a very strange book, and in the end, I'm not sure that I quite liked it. I kept waiting for some of the random threads to show up again.
Scott Callaway
This was not at all what I was expecting. I really liked it! However, in the end I was left a bit confused. Sadly, I am not very good at "reading between the lines" thus the reason for my being confused, because this is the kind of book that you read and realize that there is a lot more being said here than what is being shown. Just the same, I really enjoyed the narrative and the surface story of this book enough that I was deeply intrigued and captivated.

The book is written in a series of lett
Carey Gibbons
I'm still not really sure what happened in this book. I liked this book a lot, which is kind of weird for me. I feel like I shouldn't like this book because I'm still confused. But my love of Lost has taught me that sometimes a narrative journey that grabs you by the seat of your pants is fun just for the sake of the journey. I enjoyed the weirdness of this novel. I enjoyed the fact that it's written all in letters - I love epistolary narratives because the reader is held hostage in a way by the ...more
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Gene Wolfe Fans: Sorcerer's House Discussion 21 27 Apr 17, 2015 10:29PM  
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Gene Wolfe is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. He is noted for his dense, allusive prose as well as the strong influence of his Catholic faith, to which he converted after marrying a Catholic. He is a prolific short story writer and a novelist, and has won many awards in the field.

The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is given by SFWA for ‘lifetime achievement in science fict
More about Gene Wolfe...
The Shadow of the Torturer (The Book of the New Sun #1) Shadow & Claw (The Book of the New Sun #1-2) Sword and Citadel (The Book of the New Sun, #3-4) The Claw of the Conciliator (The Book of the New Sun #2) The Sword of the Lictor (The Book of the New Sun #3)

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“His eyes say quite plainly that he once trusted someone, that he has been repenting it for longer than you or I have been alive, and that he will never take the chance again.” 0 likes
“Magic,” Martha whispered breathlessly, “is diplomacy. It isn’t just saying the words. It’s who says them, how he says them, and when he says them.” 0 likes
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