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House of Windows by Alexia Casale
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House of Windows

by Alexia Casale

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This review is based on an advanced reader copy that I received from the publisher. Actual rating - 3.5 out of 5

While I didn't enjoy this novel as much as The Bone Dragon, it did largely share the same tone as this novel (only without the dark sting in the tail). As a character study, the novel was utterly fantastic. In the beginning, I utterly hated Nick but as the story progressed and revealed more of his back story I started to see why he behaved so rudely towards other people and really empathised with him.

Casale really excels in writing believable characters. Even the secondary cast of her story are given very different voices and their inner feelings show through in their actions. Casale does not insult the reader by spelling out what her characters are feeling at every moment, she instead shows it through tones of voice and tiny gestures. For me, this made them feel real. The characters do receive development but it is not in the form of a sudden epiphany. Instead they grow gradually, learning a little more from every experience. This truly grounded the novel in the real world.

However, the novel was also very slow burning. The opening hundred pages felt bogged down beneath a lot of specific terminology as Nick is told many facts about Cambridge University. The students here don't seem to refer to anything by its real name and every event has some kind of weird ritual attached to it. As little of this information is actually important to the plot, it just felt as though it was slowing down the story.

The structure of the novel also took a little getting use to as it flicked between events with days or even weeks sometimes passing between chapters. Although things started to come together later in the story, this felt a little disorientating to start with as I found it difficult to get to know Nick while I felt that I was missing out on huge chunks of his life. While this structure did fit the title quote very well, I feel that it may be marmite for some.

All in all, if you're a fan of character studies I would certainly recommend this story to you. It's a slow-burner but it does really make you care for the core cast. ( )
  ArkhamReviews | May 4, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571321534, Paperback)

"The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us." (Robert Louis Stevenson). Nick hates it when people call him a genius. Sure, he's going to Cambridge University aged 15, but he says that's just because he works hard. And, secretly, he only works hard to get some kind of attention from his workaholic father. Not that his strategy is working. When he arrives at Cambridge, he finds the work hard and socialising even harder. Until, that is, he starts to cox for the college rowing crew and all hell breaks loose...

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 29 Jul 2015 22:02:56 -0400)

'The body is a house of many windows: there we all sit, showing ourselves and crying on the passers-by to come and love us.' Robert Louis Stevenson Nick hates it when people call him a genius. Sure, he's going to Cambridge University aged 15, but he says that's just because he works hard. And, secretly, he only works hard to get some kind of attention from his workaholic father.Not that his strategy is working. When he arrives at Cambridge, he finds the work hard and socialising even harder. Until, that is, he starts to cox for the college rowing crew and all hell breaks loose...… (more)

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