Title: The Death House
Author: Sarah Pinborough
From the back: 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 sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.
No one returns from the sanatorium.
Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes.
Because everybody dies. It’s how you choose to live that counts.
The gist: I should probably be writing about the twisty, turny, bloody-hell-are-you-serious-dude Behind Her Eyes, and I mostly likely will. Spoiler – it’s brilliant – it’s that good that it nearly made me miss my train stop.
But first, I want to talk about The Death House. Because if I’m going to talk about Pinborough’s books, it feels wrong not to start there.
Oh my God this book made me cry. And it wasn’t the pretty sort of crying, it was the where’s-the-tissues-I-didn’t-know-I-had-this-much-snot-in-me sort of crying.
So, the tears were ugly, but the book was beautiful.
It was my first foray into Pinborough’s work and it made me want to eat up everything else she has going. It reminded me of old favourites like Wyndham’s The Chrysalids – young people living through something that they don’t have control of, that will no doubt end in something you’re not quite sure of but ain’t gonna be good. It’s about people finding love when there’s none being nurtured, and at the same time having all of the faults and the flaws that all people have. If there’s not a character in here that you haven’t met or haven’t been at some point in time then I’m gonna say right now that I’d be surprised.
It’s like a coming of age story, when there ain’t no coming of age to be had.
Make no mistake, it’s a beautiful book. It’s a grim book. And in the darkness, there is a happiness.
Cling on to that when you’re eyes are leaking the sea.
One of my favourite reads of 2016.
More than likely going to be one of my favourite re-reads of 2017.
Favourite line: “If you thought about it hard enough, you could be scared of everything.”
Read if: You want a book that captures that fine balance between sad and uplifting. I consider it a modern classic.
Read with: Tissues, and someone to give you a hug afterwards.