**spoiler alert** The Death House is, at its heart, a love story. Unlikely I know for something that reads like a dystopian Gothic but it's the truth.**spoiler alert** The Death House is, at its heart, a love story. Unlikely I know for something that reads like a dystopian Gothic but it's the truth. Toby is one of a handful of residents of the Death House, an isolated big house on an island presumably somewhere in the British Isles.Sixteen years old and decidedly unlikeable Toby is waiting to die, like all the other residents of the Death House, from a mysterious illness that can only be picked up in a blood test and once you're found to have it you're whisked away - leaving your life, family, and friends behind for good. One day though, something happens and Toby realizes that just maybe he wants to live. Clara, the new resident, turns everyone's lives upside down and suddenly little things that didn't matter? Now they do...
I'm a huge fan of Sarah Pinborough's writing and have been since I picked up a copy of A Matter of Blood way back when. The Death House is one for the favorite's list, it's beautifully written and the children in the house are vividly written as is the house itself. It should be a depressing, downbeat read but is actually quite wonderful in its description and the way that there's a layer of menace over everything, from the children themselves to the matron who is maybe just as dangerous as this disease they are all facing. Clara and Toby are two of the best-written teenagers I've come across in a while. In fact, it's quite easy to forget they are teenagers at times as they develop a sense of maturity way above those of their peers not on the island. The supporting cast of characters, Will, Louis, Jake, Eleanor, and Ashley are all equally as well written and unique in their character too and play pivotal parts in the story of The Death House. It's a slow build to a most unexpected ending, especially when there's an element of hope throughout the latter part of the story that has you hooked to the very last page. I shall say no more but if you're anything like me you'll need a box of tissues handy......more
I was contacted by the authors and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing Branded, as I already had Branded on my wishlist naturally I said yes as II was contacted by the authors and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing Branded, as I already had Branded on my wishlist naturally I said yes as I loved the premise of the book and it sounded like something I would love.
Branded is the story of Lexi Hamilton and her fight to survive in a compound known as the Hole after being falsely accused of lust. In this Dystopian society when people sin they are branded with whatever color their sin is represented by, literally branded around their neck like a tattoo, in Lexi's case her brand is blue for lust but from the very beginning Lexi protests her innocence. Once in the Hole she is handed over to Cole, a young guard in the Commander's forces who comes with a sidekick, Zeus the Great Dane. Luckily for Lexi Cole isn't like the other guards who are cruel, vicious and wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of Lexi given that her sin is Lust and most others in the same situation work as prostitutes.
Sent to work in the hospital as a nursing assistant she meets Sutton, a doctor who is obviously connected to Lexi in some way given that he seems to know far too much about her. Escorted to and from the hospital by Cole and living together means they become close quite quickly, their relationship rapidly develops into something far beyond guard & sinner and in amongst all the action is the story of Lexi and Cole trying (and failing) not to act on their respective feelings.
The main theme of the book seems to be romance, with a Dystopian twist, which is fine if you like your books heavy on the romance side but I wanted to know more about their society, how it worked and more about the Seven Deadly Sins. The action in Branded is virtually non-stop, almost from the beginning of the book. Lexi is an easy target, both for other Sinners and the guards, and they spend most of their time either running or hiding. Things get interesting when the character of Bruno is introduced and she starts learning self-defence which comes in handy in the second half of the book when her training becomes far more intensive. I really wanted to like Lexi but I found it really hard, on one hand I felt awful at everything she'd gone through previous to landing in the Hole but sometimes her behavior made me want to scream! She veered between victim and heroine frequently, she thought nothing of ignoring warnings about not doing things/going places she's not meant to but fell apart when faced with the consequences.
Cole is still as much a mystery at the end of the book as he is at the start, we don't really get to know much about him beyond the fact that he's a guard, he still has some faith left in humanity and he has a great dog! I'm hoping we maybe get to hear more about Cole's life in another book as it really would flesh out things out knowing even just a little of his back-story. Hands down the best character in the book though was Cole's dog, Zeus the Great Dane and from someone who is not a huge dog fan that's saying something! Zeus brought something else to the book, a little bit of humor (I fear for any more pillows/sheets/blankets, he seems to have a thing for shredding bedlinen!) and after a while becomes fiercely protective of Lexi, a good thing as sometimes she needs all the protection she can get!
Overall I did like Branded but I was left wanting more by the end of the book, more detail, more insight into the characters and more depth. I'm glad I read it and I will definitely look out for the second book in the series which is apparently going to feature Lexi's brother Keegan more prominently. He was another character I wasn't sure if I liked or not so I'm intrigued to read more about him....more
I can't remember who recommended this to me but I'm glad they did - sort of! This is the second book I've read by Hand and I'm absolutely in love withI can't remember who recommended this to me but I'm glad they did - sort of! This is the second book I've read by Hand and I'm absolutely in love with her writing (if stars were just for the writing it would be 5!) but there were a couple of things in Winterlong that disturbed me to the point I almost stopped reading a couple of times. Will look out for the sequels at some point!...more