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Review: The House at the Edge of the World - Julia Rochester

Genre: Literary fiction Published: Viking Publishing, june 2015

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This was quite the hidden gem. I randomly picked it up at the library, read the prologue whilst still standing at the shelf and was immediately intrigued.

The House at the Edge of the World is a beautifully atmospheric family drama with a hint of mystery, set in the coastal area of Devonshire. The story starts on the night that John Venton drunkenly falls to his death from the cliffs near his home, as he tries to pee off them. As the blurb of the book states: "it was a stupid way to die". We follow Johns twin children in the seventeen years following, and see via their eyes how the concequences of this event ripple trought the remaining family. All of the characters, in my opinion, were very well written. They are realistic and flawed to the point of almost being unlikeble. This includes our two protagonists. Despite (or maybe even because of that), I was very invested in their story of dealing with the loss of their father, and looking for answers as to what exactly happened that night.

The uncertainty surrounding their fathers last moments plays a rather large role, especially in the latter half of the book. I was at first not sure if I was on board with this as I was afraid that it would be the build up to some twisty/thriller ending, just for the sake of sensation. Luckily, this was not the case. It was handled extremely well: it made the book quite the pageturner and added a layer of extra emotional depth in the end.

My only critique would be the writingstyle, which walks a very thin line between beautifully poetic and pretentious. The author herself seems to be very aware of this and addresses the fact that her characters are quite pretentious in the story itself. Still, at times it felt a little forced and made me dislike the protagonist. Again: maybe this was intentional, but I feel I should mention it.

To get back to my starting statement: this was truly a hidden gem for me. It was very much up my alley and I'm very happy that I decided to pick it up. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good family tragedy.

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