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The Sorcerer's House

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  1,343 Ratings  ·  215 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. He writes 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
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by Tor Books (first published March 1st 2010)
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Apr 10, 2010 Neil rated it it was amazing
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
DeAnna Knippling
Sep 21, 2015 DeAnna Knippling rated it really liked it
Review for non-Gene-Wolfe fans: if you're looking to get into Gene Wolfe, I think either this, the "Best of" collection, or Evil Guest would be a good place to start. The story reads like an excellent fantasy/cozy mystery with lots of twists.

Review for Gene-Wolfe fans:

First pass is a four - the surface-level story felt just slightly predictable, with lots of items that seemed telegraphed. "Yes, yes, of course there's a werewolf..." That kind of thing. Twist at the end was lovely.

I read through
Sep 05, 2014 Nikki rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, mystery
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
Apr 09, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
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
Feb 28, 2010 Stefan rated it really liked it
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
Apr 11, 2010 Christopher rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, sf-2010
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
Sep 28, 2015 Shadowdenizen rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Sadly, though still quite readable, this is one of the lesser Gene Wolfe works, in my opinion, which is why I missed it up 'til now.

Though thankfully, the "Unreliable Narrator" technique he loves so much is at least somewhat under control in this one.

Jan 18, 2017 Jaro is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This is copy 112 of 300 signed numbered copies of the hardcover edition.
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
Patrick Burgess
May 12, 2010 Patrick Burgess rated it really liked it
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
Mar 15, 2016 Sem rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-and-sf
In which Wolfe messes with our heads to splendid effect (as usual)...
Ranting Dragon
Apr 09, 2011 Ranting Dragon rated it really liked it
Shelves: guests

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
Jun 27, 2013 Doris rated it really liked it
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
Fantasy Literature
Mar 15, 2015 Fantasy Literature rated it really liked it
The Sorcerer'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
Jeff Miller
Mar 28, 2013 Jeff Miller rated it it was amazing
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
May 18, 2010 Jean rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Read this one b/c Neil Gaiman raved about it. Of course, Wolfe did dedicate The Sorcerer's House to Gaiman, so there may be a tiny bit of bias there. Also, my husband and I read The Book of the New Sun together, and loved it.

While The Sorcerer's House is no Book of the New Sun, it is extremely compelling. A book I would have read straight through if I had the time and one that I stayed up way too late with for a couple of nights. Speaking of which, it's not such a great 2AM read if you're easil
Apr 19, 2010 Bogart rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, horror
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
Apr 09, 2012 Tracy rated it really liked it
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.
Jennifer Juilano
Jun 22, 2010 Jennifer Juilano rated it did not like it
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.
Feb 18, 2016 Frederick rated it it was amazing
Great Read, and bristling with mysteries that I expect will only unfold themselves over time. A testament to a world whose inhabitants speak of as Reality, a world we all inhabited as children, but few can remember, suffocated by the banalities of the common mentality. This book was dedicated to Neil Gaiman, and feels very much like a kind of an answer to Stardust, which Gaiman significantly dedicated to Wolfe and his wife.
Mar 31, 2010 Lori rated it liked it
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!
Jul 07, 2012 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 06, 2010 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 15, 2010 Hope rated it really liked it
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!
Aug 23, 2010 Andreas rated it it was amazing
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.
I loved this book - got sucked right in. More to come.
Apr 11, 2014 Trina rated it liked it
I'm left with an overwhelming feeling of "huh?".
Jan 10, 2017 Tim rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, fantasy
I've heard of Gene Wolfe for quite some time, but have for some reason put off reading him. This is most likely because he is presented as something like the Thomas Pynchon of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Everyone who praises him will then tell you how difficult he is to read and how you probably won't "get it." While his plots have sounded fascinating at times, I've never really wanted to commit to what was presented before me. I decided that would finally change in 2017 and gave this one as a ...more
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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...

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“I have told myself over and over that I must get out of this house, that I have stumbled upon a place where dreams walk by daylight and that those dreams may destroy me. But there’s the money, and I have been so poor for so long. There is a terrible fascination, too. I am a scholar or I am nothing, Millie. I knew an elderly Jewish scholar at the University of Chicago, a Dr. Kopecky. He was robbed on the street, and surrendered his wallet and his watch without a struggle; but when the gang of juveniles who had surrounded him tried to take his bag, containing one old book and his notes, he fought them all. Perhaps you understand.” 2 likes
“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.” 1 likes
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