YA Book Review: House of Furies

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Posted: August 24, 2017

Category: Staff Picks

House of Furies book cover: an illustration of a girl in a dress holding a lantern descends a set of stairs in a Victorian house.Set in early 19th century England, Louisa struggles to make a living after escaping from Pitney House, a boarding school for young women. While Louisa is free from the tyranny of Pitney’s teachers, the streets are hardly better. Having resorted to petty thievery and telling fortunes for a penny, Louisa is shunned by the local residents. But an elderly woman offers Louisa employment as a maid at Coldthistle House—a hotel featuring restorative hot springs to cure all ailments.

Coldthistle House seems like the perfect chance for a new beginning, the staff are kind, the pay is decent, and Louisa has a room to call her own. But there is something strange about the house, something that Louisa can’t quite put her finger on. The master of the house only resides in a basement office, rarely venturing above ground, and at night there are strange shadows that lurk around the upper levels. Even the guests seem to be unusual, coming to stay from all over the world just to use Coldthistle’s hot springs. The more Louisa works at the house, the more she discovers that the guests and staff are more than they appear; each with their own dark past.

House of Furies combines fairy tale creatures with gothic horror, using illustrations and encyclopedia excerpts to introduce the creatures Louisa encounters. This leads to several suspenseful moments, as the illustrations and excerpts are shown before Louisa encounters them in the book. However, it is not always obvious who the creatures are, leaving the reader to wonder if the people Louisa has met are ordinary humans or mythical beings hiding in plain sight.

Similar to the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series, photographs of objects, animals, and humans have been placed throughout the book, foreshadowing events to come and adding to the gothic atmosphere of the book.

Louisa herself is an intriguing character with several flaws; she is brash, untrusting, and extremely independent. In fact, she is so independent that she refuses to trust those close to her and would rather solve her problems herself than ask for assistance, even if it places her at a disadvantage. But the events at Coldthistle House will require Louisa to set aside her distrust and come to terms with the unconditional kindness that Lee, a guest of Coldthistle House, shows her.

House of Furies ensnares the reader with its eerie illustrations and descriptions, while the gothic environment creates a feeling of unease and dread, as Louisa seeks to unravel the mysteries of Coldthistle House.

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