A “disquieting” (The New York Times) and mesmerizing tale from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor—a tale that “[stirs] the imagination in the manner of Roald Dahl or C.S. Lewis” (Winnepeg Free Press).
In a sprawling estate lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign. Then more children begin to show up.
Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan’s lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan’s library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan’s past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan’s mind.
“A one-of-a-kind literary horror story” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), The Children’s Home is “an absorbing and dream-like narrative that recalls both the pastoral gothic of Shirley Jackson and the dystopic vision of John Wyndham” (Columbus Dispatch). “Written with charm and restraint,” (The Missourian), Lambert’s American debut weaves elements of psychological suspense and neo-gothic horror to reveal the grotesque—as well as the glimmers of goodness—buried deep within the soul. “This genre-bending horror story is sure to haunt you in all the best ways” (Bustle).
British author Lambert (With a Zero at Its Heart) fuses a contemporary fairy tale with understated horror in this strange, mesmerizing novel. Morgan Fletcher who has the "face of a monster" because his emotionally unstable mother threw acid on him when he was young has never left his estate; his only contact is with his housekeeper, Engel. But when children mysteriously begin appearing at Morgan's sprawling manor, he compassionately takes them in. Soon, the house is filled with dozens of children, who explore the labyrinth of abandoned rooms uncovering fascinating treasures, which reveal clues to Morgan's dark heritage. The folkloric undertone and stylish prose, which is replete with gruesome and wondrous images, keep the reader turning the pages, though the latter chapters lack the intensity and focus of earlier chapters, and the thought-provoking conclusion isn't as satisfying as it could have been.
Surely one of the most imaginative and thoughtful books I have read for a while.
An Odd Book!
The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert is an unusual book. Morgan Fletcher lives alone in his big house until Engel shows up. Then one day a baby is left at the door. Slowly other children start to appear at the house. When one of the children become ill, Engel finds Dr. Crane to come and visit. At first Morgan hides from Dr. Crane. Morgan was severely injured by his mother. His face and one hand are badly disfigured. Then slowly Morgan gets to know Dr. Crane and they spend time together. Then people come looking for the children. When they search the house, the children (and all of their things) disappear. Until one day they find one child (maybe they are supposed to), Moira. Morgan and Dr. Crane along with the children go looking for the Moira. Why was the little girl taken and what is their fascination with children?
The Children’s Home is just plain odd. I have tried to summarize it to the best of my ability. This book is really not that long, but it seem to go on forever. I really tried, but I was never able to get into this book. Odd things happen in the book, but nothing is ever explained (like what year is it, the country, last names). The writing style is convoluted and formal. I do not think I got the point of this book, but then I do not believe the writer knew what type of story he wanted to write. The world the writer created did not seem complete or whole. We are only given a little bit of information about it (like everything else). I give The Children’s Home 1 out of 5 stars (which means I really did not like it). It sounded like an interesting book, but I just found it odd and confusing (and very disgusting at the end). This book is not for someone with a light stomach. There are some nasty things that happen near the end of the book (with equally horrible descriptions).
I received a complimentary copy of The Children’s Home from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.