Lindsay Heller's Reviews > The House at Midnight

The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse
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Mar 04, 12

bookshelves: 2012, mystery, we-really-want-to-be-secret-history
Read from February 27 to March 04, 2012

I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did, mostly because I'd heard good things, and most of it was completely solid. I really enjoyed the basic premise; Lucas inherits an enormous country manor house from his uncle who's just committed suicide for reasons that no one seems to be able to fathom, and invites his group of tight knit friends out for continual weekends of idleness. But recent events seem to change almost everything as almost immediately Lucas confesses his love of his ten year best friend, and our protagonist, Joanna. They begin a tentative relationship, both seemingly to realize the dangers of dating someone who's been that important in their lives. This was a really interesting plot, to me. But the book seemed to lose that interest fairly quickly. It's difficult to talk about this book without giving away at least parts of the plot, but ultimately this seemed to be a book about the dissolving of a group and how that came to pass. But, quite like this review seems to be, it ended up muddied and confused. I didn't always like the protagonist, which is okay generally, but I often found her decisions and actions confusing and selfish. I didn't understand why she behaved the way she did, though I understood the difficulty of the situation surrounding her.

Then, there's a whole older generation that we're given glimpses of through memory, film, and the ever increasing presence of the uncle's old girlfriend. I'll just go ahead and say; there's a mystery here. It's not a particularly good mystery, but it exists and causes the plot to propel itself further, to a degree, with the older generation shedding light and anguish on the younger.

The ending was almost atrocious. I found myself eager to find out what it was, but as soon as the characters showed up to explain the dialogue devolved into some sort of film script out of the 1940s. I kept expecting to actually hear the words "That's right, I did it and I'd do it again!" In one sentence a character is protesting a perception and then three lines later, as if to make sure the reader understand the situation, she relents "No, it's true, that thing I just said wasn't. I always knew it was true." It felt sloppy. And it felt like these characters, who'd been so richly introduced and cultivated, deserved far more.
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