The House At Midnight – Book Review

And despite my best attempts to be rational, I was afraid. I could feel the house’s atmosphere, that eerie swirling in the corners of the room and the folds of the curtains and behind the furniture. It wasn’t explicit; there was no sudden breathless rush, sucking the air out and dragging the walls in on me, but there was a feeling of underlying menace, a flexing of muscle. I kept my eyes pressed tightly shut all night, childishly afraid of what might be standing at the end of the bed if I were to open them. -From The House At Midnight, page 193-

Lucas Heathfield’s Uncle Patrick commits suicide and leaves Lucas a rambling country house in England along with his accumulated wealth. Lucas invites his collegiate friends to escape their lives in London and party on the weekends at his new digs. But what begins as sheer abandon from responsibility soon becomes a dark, psychological mystery. Joanna, Lucas’ best friend, narrates the novel and slowly reveals the throbbing sexual undercurrents and malevolent forces hidden between the walls of the house. The novel is full of buried secrets and uneasy parallels between generations. Nothing is as it seems; and beneath it all is a tension which builds to a shocking conclusion.

Lucie Whitehouse knows how to structure a novel of suspense, but her writing was sometimes uneven and the end leaves the reader wondering at the future of its characters. There is a lot of heavy drinking and a strong sexual theme to the book which may offend some readers – although I actually thought the sexual tension was the strongest part of the narrative.

The House At Midnight is a story of growing up in the shadow of family secrets, and about betrayal and fear. The strongest character in the book is non human – the monolithic house which Lucas inherits and the ghosts which inhabit it.  Whitehouse lends a gothic feel to her writing which drives the story.

The House at Midnight is Whitehouse’s first novel – and it is a well-written debut that reads like a ghost story. Readers who enjoy gothic novels and are not put off by sexual themes and moral excesses will find this to be a compelling read.

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15 comments

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  1. I got this ARC too, I am a little bummed by the ending in your review….since I don’t enjoy gothic novels, or sexual themes!! Let’s hope it isn’t too bad 🙂

    You have done a great job reading!!! I have been working on my ARC too. I was going to read challenge books, but I opted (so far) to try to get some ARCs knocked off my ARC shelf!!!

    Happy reading!!

    • Debi on June 28, 2008 at 15:07

    Oooh, this one is going on my wish list! I can’t believe you’re even cranking out reviews during the read-a-thon…I’m impressed! Hope you’re having fun!

    • Andi on June 28, 2008 at 15:07

    I haven’t heard of this one! Thanks for another great review (as always). 😀

    • Becky on June 28, 2008 at 15:08

    Maybe something appropriate for Carl’s R.I.P challenge???

    • Wendy on June 28, 2008 at 15:19
      Author

    Bethany: Well, I believe everyone has to come to their own conclusions…so don’t let my review discourage you. See what you think.

    Debi: I have to write reviews right after I finish books so I can remember what I was thinking!

    Andi: You’re welcome Andi!

    Becky: Oh definitely this would work for that challenge…creepy.

    • Myrthe on June 30, 2008 at 06:11

    Wow, Wendy! You even wrote reviews during the Readathon! Great! This does sound like a good book, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

    • Wendy on June 30, 2008 at 09:45
      Author

    Myrthe: Everyone was surprised I did the review during the event – but I can write them best right after I finish them…however, after this one, I had not the mental ability nor desire to review any more *laughs*

  2. I’m reading this rigt now and I’m torn about it. On one hand, I think she overdoes it a bit on the Gothic stuff, but on the other I love that she delves into the psychological relationships between all the characters. My review will probably be up on my blog in a few days.

    • Wendy on July 8, 2008 at 06:44
      Author

    Katherine: *nods* this is why it only got a 3.5 stars for me…a bit uneven at times. I’ll be interested to read your review.

    • Judy Mann on December 19, 2009 at 13:35

    Never mind all this Gothic horror and the Greek Mythological references. Will somebody please tell me. Does the ambulance come- or doesn’t it???

    • Wendy on December 28, 2009 at 09:04
      Author

    Judy: *laughs*

  3. I’m thinking about downloading this with one of my Audible credits. It sounds intriguing!

    • Wendy on May 9, 2010 at 08:29
      Author

    Literate Housewife: I hope you’ll enjoy it!

  4. I did download it. I thought it was okay. I actually thought the house got in the way of what I found most interesting in the story. I think there was some potential for Danny to really be a great villain, but the ending petered out in that way. I, too, thought that the sexual tension was the best part of the story.

    • Wendy on July 4, 2010 at 17:39
      Author

    Literate Housewife: I kind of like books where the house is a character – so that part didn’t really bother me. I agree about the sexual tension being a good part of the book 🙂 Thanks for weighing in!

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