Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Death House” as Want to Read:
The Death House
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book

The Death House

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  2,905 ratings  ·  557 reviews
Toby's life was perfectly normal... until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House: an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They're looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 26th 2015 by Gollancz
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Death House, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,905 ratings  ·  557 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Death House
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
This was my first Sarah Pinborough book and with "The Death House" being a win in the Goodreads Giveaways I was most certainly looking forward to reading it.
I started off loving this book, the premise of a story involving a ‘Death House’ where children with a 'defective' gene live, after being forcibly taken from their homes and families, sounded very intriguing . If they start to become ill they are escorted during the night to the mysterious sanatorium which can only be accessed by a lift. Thi
IM SO ANGRY. ANd upset...

(some spoilers ahead)

This book has managed to keep me up all night (and I have to get up in less than four hours now to go to an appointment, then go to work for a night shift). It made me shed tears. I started up LOVING it... And you leave me with a 'Romeo and Juliet' slash 'Titanic' mash up ending, Sarah? Are you, really??? So much cheese I can taste Camembert on the tip of my tongue. And I actually do like my books romantic and dramatic (maybe not a mix of both at the
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Toby lives in the Death House located on a remote British island. The top floor of the Death House is known as the sanatorium, where kids disappear/are taken to in the middle of the night and never return. The motto in the death house is “No one returns from the sanatorium”.

Children are brought to the death house a few at a time knowing they have not got long to live. The children know that they are “defective” and thus try to ignore their inevitable fate. They have minimal supervision yet ar
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
This book had me quite conflicted and somewhat lost at times. After I read the synopsis I was super excited and expected a somewhat dark, brooding and chilling book set in this big old house. This was not quite how it came across to me. But first the blurb that drew me in:

Toby's life was perfectly normal . . . until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House; an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and t
“Hate looks like everybody else until it smiles”

----Tahereh Mafi

Sarah Pinborough, an English-born horror writer, has penned a gripping and dark young adult thriller, The Death House that revolves around a thirteen year old boy who has been whisked away from his family after a negative blood test into The Death House, where he will be observed under the care of some nurses for any sign of sickness which will decide his fate whether he will or will not be taken to the sanatorium, the ultimate e
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderfully creepy and realistic tale about a group of young people who have been isolated on account of being, “defective.” Each of the residents of the ‘Death House’ were randomly tested at school for an unnamed illness, which can strike the population up to the age of eighteen. The main character of this novel, Toby, was not concerned when he took the test at school – indeed most of his classmates were simply relieved to be missing various class tests. However, on returning home, To ...more
Liz Barnsley
The Death House was a marvel of a read, beautifully emotional, so terribly addictive that I read it in one afternoon and just as a warning, will stomp all over your heart and make it bleed.

Toby lives in “The Death House”. Taken from his family having tested positive for the “defective” gene, he spends his days sleeping and his nights wandering. In a place where death seems to be the only possible outcome, Toby has established himself as the leader of his small dorm group, going day to day and wa
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, netgalley
I think there will be many people who will love The Death House. Especially among the YA audience.

Life, death, love, friendship, secrets and coming of age are all explored amongst a backdrop of children and teens who are ‘defective’ and have been removed from society into a boarding school style house to die.

Well written, enjoyable, easy to read. I can see people will become highly emotionally invested in the characters in this book

Thankyou to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read a
One of those rare books for which there are just not enough stars. Beautiful. And now I must go and wring out my heart.

Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
A forgotten building on a forgotten island where forgotten children live.

An interesting story of a near future(?) world where children are tested until they reach the age of eighteen for some sort of abnormality, if they test positive they are sent to what they call The Death House. In any story with kids and teenagers there is the risk of becoming a YA schmaltz-fest but while there was a love story it never dipped in to the "Oh God, here we go" territory.

I will say right from the top, if you ar
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As a rule, the things that frighten me are the things I tend to become most obsessed with. Death is right up there at the top of the list. It’s that ultimate fear of the unknown and I actively spend a great deal of my free time thinking about it. I know that may sound a horribly morbid, but honestly it not. I’ve come to the conclusion that this fear is what drives many people in their day to day lives; they may not even be consciously aware of it, but it is always there driving them on. What wou ...more
Jul 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I mostly skimmed this book, because the whole creeping fear of the illness thing… it gets to me. It’s one of the things my anxiety does to me: just a constant sense that my body is a ticking timebomb, and sooner or later, something will go wrong. I don’t need the idea of a test to tell if you’re Defective, a whole society that condones locking people who have that gene away. So, yeah, I mostly skimmed this one.

It’s not a bad story, actually. I wasn’t sure, from the concept, but I did find myself
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
This review is also on my blog:

The Death House tells the story of Toby, one of a group of children who has been identified as having the Defective gene after a routine blood test. He now lives at The Death House, an isolated mansion on an island in the North Sea with others like him, where they are studied by Matron and her team of nurses for signs of sickness. If you get sick, you’re taken upstairs to the sanatorium. And no one ever comes back from the sanatorium.

Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, how about that? Silly me! Turns out, I've read this book before. Perhaps last year sometime? But by the time I was certain (denial denial denial) that I'd read this already, I chose to just keep going to the end.

It's such a sad, sweet story. Something cataclysmic has happened to the world. Worse, some godawful disease persists, and lives inside some of the surviving people. Everyone is tested. Those who test positive are yanked out of society at large to reside in these death houses, wher
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a five star read for me until the very final 6 pages.

Children are taken to the death house after test results show signs of a plague which deteriorate their bodies. The children are fed and given cloths but mostly fend for themselves under the watchful eye of the matron. Toby knows that the nurses give 'vitamins' to the kids at night to make them sleep so when he stops taking them he meets Clara and they become instantly attached to one another. They find a way to escape the confines o
J.H. Moncrieff
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was nothing like I expected. I thought it would be an adult horror, and instead I got a YA love story. And it was so damn brilliant I'm still in shock.

"The Death House" reminds me a lot of John Wyndham's "The Chrysalids." There are a lot of similar themes. I've seen some reviewers complain about unanswered questions in this book, but to me, Pinborough's brilliance is in what she DOESN'T tell you, and in that way it reminds me of Josh Malerman's "The Bird Box." If she had focused on the
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sarah Pinborough​'s The Death House is a stunning, powerful, painful, and yes, beautiful, read. The speculative elements are slight, but all the more intriguing for it. The focus is squarely on the main character, Toby, and the sudden turn of events that lands him in the Death House alongside other children who've suffered the same fate. Its brilliance is in the characters and the whiplash of emotions they (and you) go through during this short, engrossing read. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Lord of the ...more
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Sarah does an amazing job of capturing the male teenage voice. The fact that Toby isn’t a particularly likable character to me, proves this point. I can sympathise with his situation though, and slowly his better qualities comes through. He’s a good big brother to the younger boys in his dorm, even if somewhat grudgingly.

Little of their classes in included in the story, for the main they are inconsequential for them; they’re not going to use their lessons learned after all. However one key thing
Karen Barber
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Toby is part of a group of children who have tested 'Defective'. They are isolated on a remote island and live in what is known as the Death House. The children who live there are constantly monitored, and taken to the sanatorium if sickness is suspected. Nobody ever returns.
We are never told the exact nature of this illness, how it came about or why it is such a threat (which did rankle somewhat-sometimes answers are a good thing). Pinborough focuses instead on exploring the relationships betwe
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This turned out to be nothing like I expected. In fact, it completely surpassed all of my initial expectations and I just couldn't put it down.

Beautifully written and genuinely moving in places.

Hmm... I appear to have something in my eye.



*sobs violently*


Don't look at me! I'm not crying! You're crying!

Yzabel Ginsberg
(I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

I resent the comparison with The Fault In Our Stars, because The Death House was more readable: Toby, for all his faults, wasn"t so insufferable, probably because he behaved like a somewhat surly, but all in all normal teenager. And Clara was enjoyable, with a positive look on what happened to her, even though she knew how all the kids at the Death House were doomed to end.

I wouldn't deem this the best novel ever. It left me want
Suze Lavender
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Defective children are being taken to the Death House. They have to leave their family behind and aren't allowed to interact with anyone but other Defectives and the staff. They're waiting to get sick, which means being taken to the sanatorium, where nobody ever returns from. The Death House has been divided into dorms and Toby is in one of them. He used to be a regular teenager and his biggest worry was going to a party with the popular crowd. Now he has different things on his mind. Toby has n ...more
Apr 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway, so many thanks for the opportunity to read it.

Extremely well written, this book was told from the first-person by Toby and was narrated in the present tense, interspersed with narrative at the end of some of the chapters about the time before current events.

I didn’t know what to expect from this when I picked it up, all I knew is that I’d been grabbed by the synopsis which explained that Toby, the protagonist, had a normal life until it suddenly b
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set some time in the future when kids can be removed from their familiar surroundings for carrying a ‘Defective’ gene, “The Death House” is where they are relocated to be with others who have also tested positive.

Although the house is situated on an island, it’s about as far from paradise as you could get. The dormitory situations exhibit the customary bashful awkwardness, pecking orders and bravado. Despite these daily distractions, everyone’s thoughts are overshadowed by disbelief and the nig
Sep 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult
This book is vastly different from how it's advertised. I expected a creepy, atmospheric novel about a kid trying to get to the bottom of what his mysterious illness, the Matron's motives, and how to escape the Sanatorium. Instead it was mostly a focus on the social lives of the students in the house mixed in with a sappy teenage romance.

I kept reading because I wanted to know more about Toby's circumstances, but there was so much left unexamined. We're supposed to believe Matron is creepy and
Peter Newman
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-things
I loved this book. It's beautiful and sad and very, very tense. I feel vaguely inadequate trying to find the right words but assume that I think you should read it. ;) ...more
Seregil of Rhiminee
Originally published at Risingshadow.

Sarah Pinborough's The Death House is a beautifully written novel that can be highly recommended to adults and young adults alike. It's a touching and bittersweet exploration of life, death and love in a remote manor house where teenagers are sent to die.

Before I write more about the contents of this novel, I'll mention that I have high quality standards when it comes to young adult speculative fiction, because I'm personally fed up with mediocre YA novels th
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I demand answers. No actually, I shouldn't even be demanding them in the first place because they should've been provided without having to ask for them right now when it's already too late BECAUSE THE STORY IS OVER.

My emotions are all over the place. I've shed enough tears over this book and those tears should have been worth it. That was a "let-me-wrap-up-this-story-quick-and-make-you-feel-so-many-painful-emotions-and-leave-you-questioning-the-entire-story" kind of ending. And I refuse to acc
Femke (booksfemme)
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars!

So this was an interesting read. I kinda still have to gather my thoughts on this but I've never read anything quite like this.
Lynn Williams
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars out of 5
The Death House by Sarah Pinborough is an emotional and dark story. A story that puts the focus on life and death and how people cope when faced with their own mortality.

I won’t deny that this is a difficult review to write and I’ve been mulling it around in my brain some. Firstly, I’m aware that I won’t be able to do the story justice and, secondly, given the nature of the book I don’t want to portray this as really gloomy and put people
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • De executie
  • החיים הם תקופה קשה
  • Truth or Dance (Truth or Dance #1)
  • 1979 Short Stories (Study Guide): The Way of Cross and Dragon
  • Eight Pieces of Silva
  • Room service
  • Red Rain (Nameless #4)
  • Show Stopper (Show Stopper #1)
  • Fright Night
  • The One-Eyed Man
  • Peter & Max
  • Show Stealer (Show Stopper #2)
  • Between the Lies
  • Suddenly Last Summer
  • De eliminatie
  • Sweet Sixteen
  • כראמל (כראמל #1)
  • Angel Thieves
See similar books…
Sarah Pinborough is the NYT bestselling and Sunday Times #1 Bestselling author of 'Behind Her Eyes' which has sold in over 25 territories thus far and will be shown as a six part drama on Netflix in 2020 and the Sunday Times Bestseller, 'Cross Her Heart'. She has also written books across a variety of genres including the YA thriller 13 Minutes (in development with Netflix). Her next novel 'Dead T ...more

Related Articles

Summer is a great time to lose yourself in a page-turning mystery. To help you sleuth out a new read, we asked five of the season’s hottest...
71 likes · 29 comments
“Dark and light. Horror and beauty. Everything is extremes.” 6 likes
“If you thought about it hard enough, you could be scared of everything.” 3 likes
More quotes…