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The House of Mountfathom

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  104 ratings  ·  49 reviews
'THE HOUSE OF MOUNTFATHOM is the kind of book that turned me into a reader in the first place. It has the same clever interweaving of history and fantasy that I so admired in Nigel McDowell's previous books but is also filled with an utterly infectious kind of delight. The characters are so vivid and the world brims with the most gorgeous detail. And if this wasn't enough, ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published March 9th 2017 by Hot Key Books
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Average rating 3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  104 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Karen Whittard
Thank you to Netgalley, Bonier zaffier and Nigel McDowell for the opportunity to read this book for an honest review.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance reader copy of this book.

You can find my review on both Goodreads and Amazon. On and on Amazon under k.e.whittard from publication date.

Oh dear. The bio and the photo on the front sounded so promising. Sadly this didn't live up to the hype and was a little boring and dull. It was so hard to get through this book.

Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written with wonderful crafted fantasy characters and adventure. With great sadness The House Of Mountfathom was the author's final novel before his death in early 2016 at the age of thirty-four ...more
Very sad the author has died, as I'm pretty sure there'd be a sequel otherwise. A really beautiful book.

Also gaaaaaaaaay :)
Charlotte Holmans
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it
The cover of this book looked really good and the synopsis sounded awesome but... Once I got reading into it... It was hard to carry on reading, hard to focus on it, the style of writing was hard to understand.
Emily Saddler
As I read this book, I felt an air of nostalgia running through it as I was reminded of the magical tales that turned me into a reader as a child; the magic is palpable yet mysterious throughout and the Mountfathom seat is so richly ornamented that it heightens magic into another realm for the reader. Indeed, the description of Mountfathom is where this narrative really soars; there is breathtaking detail and the scale of the mansion, with its rooms dedicated to The Amazon and The World, are hig ...more
Pamela  (Here to Read Books and Chew Gum)
As interesting the description and as beautiful as the cover was, they simply couldn't make up for the fact that this book was just, well, boring! It was Lemony Snicket meets The Dark is Rising with none of the humour and depth.

Antiquated prose coupled with poor description made reading this book a chore, so it unfortunately went unfinished.
When I first picked this book up, I was a little unsure at first because the way that it was written, it seemed for a slightly younger audience than I was myself. But I found, the more I started to read, the more I was being pulled in to their world and the world of Mountfathom. I could easily picture all the hallways and rooms of the large house, each character as they played a role in each chapter.
It was a story of ups and downs, of twists and turns that you don't expect to happen, not to forg
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was more unique than most. I throughly enjoyed the enchanting descriptions that contributed to the world building, as well as the author’s choppy yet poetic writing style. However the story itself was nothing like I expected, and while I can’t say I loved the plot, it did strike a chord that left me thinking about it long after the last page was turned.

Luke is the only child of Lord and Lady Mounthfathom, one day to inherit the family’s magical mansion, along with the responsibility t
Kirsty Hanson
Upon receiving this book, and after reading the synopsis, this was the kind of book that sounded like something I would absolutely love: magic, family, and adventures. It seemed like the perfect read and I couldn't wait to delve into it.

Luke Mountfathom knows he is special. He is told so by everyone he knows. His parents are special too - they are the keepers of the House of Mountfathom, a magnificent stately home where the wrong door could take you to a far away land, and strange animals appear
Rebecca Armstrong
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Family, adventure and magic. A perfect combination for this middle grade book. The House of Mountfathom is set in Ireland during times of unrest. The Driochta, always peacekeepers, must choose a side to survive. 

My favourite aspect was how alive the house felt as it was so full of magic. The House of Mountfathom seemed like another member of the family almost like it had a mind of it's own. There was so much time given to explaining the house, magic and family though, that it reduced the actual
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
As soon as I saw this book I knew I had to have it, to read it from end to end. The cover is incredibly beautiful and the style is definitely my sort of style. (not that I have any) The dark mysterious cover had me as soon as I clapped eyes on it. The different tones of blues and blacks and the way they trailed off into smoke and curls forming the shapes of ominous looking men and fearless dragons (more like a hybrid of dragons and eels.) The main thing that captured my attention was the cat in ...more
Sifa Poulton
Mountfathom is a place of magic and mystery. Smoke-casting threads through the air, wallpapers move and there's a door that can lead anywhere - if you dare brave the Dark.

Son of the House, Luke, is desperate to start learning magic, to use it like his parents and their friends do to protect Ireland and its people. However, the troubles could bring down the house and his life. If he wants to save Mountfathom, Luke must pair with street-rat Killian and embark on a dangerous adventure.

How did it all go so wrong? How did such a fantastic book fall so far? I was fully prepared to give this five stars, but no. This book was amazing up until the third to last part, and the penultimate part was great too, but what a deeply disatisfying ending.

(view spoiler)
Dalziel Mapp
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I absolutely loved this book! I mean besides the points at which I was left an emotional wreck but no good book is without something soul destroying lets face it.

The writing style was so unique and fresh it was brilliant. It took me the first small part of the book to get to grips with it but when I did I adored it. It was so beautifully written it read more like poetry than a novel. I felt so fully submerged in the world and really didn't want to have to leave it.

Also there was a ship, a
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
So I got this one from ReadersFirst in exchange for a fair review. I was drawn to it because the cover had dragons on it! Unfortunately the book barely mentions said dragons so that's how it lost a star.

The book follows the story of Luke from birth to adulthood at 16 as he grows up in the dying days of Ireland as a United country. This coincides with the death of magic in the world as places of power are taken over or wiped out by a man with a vengeance. Half way through the book diverges and yo
Christina Reid
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The son says, "How can I know where to begin? If I have no destination, how can I be sure here the door will lead?"
"You cannot," says his father, in a keen whisper. And manages to smile. "You cannot know for certain what awaits in the dark. And is that not a great excitement? As with an unknown story on the shelf - where will you be taken? My advice is this: simply open the book, and trust. Turn the page, and so begin..."

I can't believe it took me so long to read this book - fantasy set in N
Dec 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not exactly sure what to think of this one if I'm honest.
I loved the beginning, it was beautifully lyrical and swept me up in the story so much I didn't want to put it down.
Then the lyrical quality kinda... dropped off, I guess you could say. I lost interest about half way through, got confused as to who was who, what was going on, and just why I cared about the characters in the first place. Could just be Christmas time depression, which I usually get around this time of year, I'm not sure, I
Lozzi Counsell
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't think I would enjoy this book at the beginning. I started reading it and I just wasn't drawn in. The leaping of time was too much - each chapter a new year and I wasn't seeing enough character development in Luke... and then you added Killian to the story and for me, this is what saved the book. The second he was brought in, I was so intrigued. It took me weeks to read the first 100 pages and then I read the last 300 in two nights! I became emotionally attached to characters and was sad ...more
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I was really excited about this book from the description and the beautiful cover, but unfortunately, from the first look, this book just isn't for me. The writing style and overall structure of the book did not draw me in. It was a little too jarring for me, especially since I was not expecting it. For those who really like stories like alice in wonderland or odd writing and stories like it, I believe will enjoy this book, but it just wasn't for me.

The structure was a little too fast with the w
For fans of Debi Gliori, Dave Rudden and Moira Fowley-Doyle, The House of Mountfathom is as eclectic as such a multifarious description would suggest: its melting pot of magical realism, historical fiction and action adventure is close to boiling over, it’s so stuffed. It’s got spells, shapeshifters, soldiers, servants, poets, priceless treasures, tradition, rebellion, wallpaper that comes alive, orchards, inexplicable powers, political tensions, class struggle, and room upon room of strange and ...more
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readers-first
This book has been enticing from the first paragraph. Each word encouraging you to keep reading, by giving you questions you want to seek answers for and providing answers in a creative way. It is a mystery that makes you want to to get all wrapped up and involved in this unusual but magical world. You want to continue reading, one because of the storyline and secondly, because of the way it was written. The layout of the words added creative interest in what you were reading. The author has cre ...more
Marjorie Dawson
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe how snotty some of the reviews for this book are. I mean, really?

At its heart this book is a wonderful idea, a concept full of mystery, adventure, real magic, and colour. What it needs is the skilled hand of a good editor to take it from good to great so it can stand as a testimony to the imaginative talent of a fine author who died too soon.

For all its faults the book has a vivid sense of place, and of feeling. It has an empathy with its protagonists who are perceptive, adventu
Kylie Barton
It took me a long time to get into this book, but after about half way I loved it. I imagined it to be less historical fiction and more magic. More doors going to more strange and wonderful places and more weirdness in the house. More fantasy. It was a bit like Miss Peregrine but not quite as enchanting. Still enjoyable. Particularly the Killian character, his development and mobility from slum to protagonist was a joy to follow, albeit it took me a while to understand why the story was split in ...more
Christina Janz
Drawn in by a fabulous cover, and a tempting sounding book jacket blurb, I had high hopes for this book. As an avid reader of middle/teen fiction, but also a writer, I was disappointed. There was a great lack of description, so it was hard to picture the settings, and a lack of explanation generally, making it difficult to understand things that went on which is especially important in an other-worldly, magical setting. The plot was not strong. The length could have been cut 25% without losing a ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
The House of Mountfathom has such an amazing cover, however this book's plot isn't what I originally thought it was but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The story is a little slow to begin with so sadly it was a bit hard to actually get myself into the story but it did pick up!

I enjoyed reading about the adventure that Luke goes on, and his life learning about magic and magnify, (which if you are a fan of Harry Potter, is like animagus) which is pretty cool! I like the character development which we s
Louise Hare
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With its stunningly gothic cover, I was instantly drawn to The House of Mountfathom. The style of writing is unusual, but I grew to enjoy its off-kilter rhythm, fitting perfectly with the theme of magic existing in a recognisable Ireland, though set historically around the time that Ireland was fighting for independence around a hundred years ago. Lord and Lady Mountfathom are members of the Driochta, their purpose to protect Ireland using magic. The novel begins with the birth of their son, Luk ...more
Lavender Davies-Brown
This was kind of my fault-there was a sale on at Waterstones, so I went a little overboard and grabbed some books without reading the first couple of pages beforehand. It isn't a bad book-I liked the new take on magic. It didn't really stick with me as much as some others did, is all.
Lieze Neven
Somebody on Goodreads pointed out the book was a mix between Lemony Snicket and The Dark Is Rising, but without the humour and the quirkiness. And I honestly think that does sum it up quite nicely.

Bit of a shame, but would not read it again.

Read the full review on
Nov 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wish I could have enjoyed this book. Unfortunately I found the writing disjointed, clunky and struggled to tell the difference between character voices. An interesting idea that unfortunately fell quite flat.
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 out of 5 stars.

Overall I really liked the story. Great characters and the descriptions of the environment were really clear. However the ending felt unfinished and rushed which is unsatisfying.
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From Nigel McDowell's blog (

I grew up in County Fermanagh, rural Northern Ireland, and as a child spent most of my time battling boredom, looking for adventure - crawling through ditches, climbing trees, devising games to play with my brother and sister, and reading. My favourite book as a child was The Witches by Roald Dahl.

After graduating with a degree i

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