** - Starling House
ALIX E. HARROW
Step into Starling House – if you dare . . . Alix E. Harrow reimagines Beauty and the Beast in this gorgeously modern gothic fantasy, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab and Naomi Novik.
Nobody in Eden remembers when Starling House was built. But the town agrees it’s best to let this ill-omened mansion – and its last lonely heir – go to hell. Stories of the house’s bad luck, like good china, have been passed down the generations.
Opal knows better than to mess with haunted houses, or brooding men. But when an opportunity to work there arises, the money might get her brother out of Eden. Starling House is uncanny and full of secrets – just like Arthur, its heir. It also feels strangely, dangerously, like something she’s never had: a home. Yet Opal isn’t the only one interested in the horrors and the wonders that lie buried beneath it.
Sinister forces converge on Eden – and Opal realizes that if she wants a home, she’ll have to fight for it. Even if it involves digging up her family’s ugly past to achieve a better future. She’ll have to go down, deep down beneath Starling House, to claw her way back to the light . . .
This is a romantic and spellbinding Gothic fairytale from Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award-shortlisted Alix E. Harrow.
Halloween is fast approaching, and I do love to curl up with a good horror when it comes to my October TBR list! Starling House promises a haunted house thriller, as Opal starts a job for the mysterious Arthur Starling cleaning a house which seems to be almost alive.
I was a little disappointed with Starling House – I was expecting a pacy and supernatural horror from the blurb, but the book is very much a slow burn. The first three quarters could be summed up easily in a few sentences and I never really felt fully invested. The romance angle was too heavily prominent, and Arthur is described so badly on first meeting him that the love element seemed to come out of nowhere. I kept picturing him as an old man which didn’t help, and I still don’t really know how old he was meant to be.
I did really enjoy the ‘character’ of the house itself and I thought that was well depicted. I also like that as a main character, Opal has her fair share of flaws, she makes deals with ‘the wrong people’, steals from everyone and finds it difficult to trust people. There were some elements to the plot that would have so easily been resolved with a conversation, and the fact that this is missing felt like more of a convenience to the story rather than realistic. There were also some plot holes in the later part of the plot which were confusing and left me with questions.
Overall, Starling House is a slow burn – it wasn’t the horror book I was expecting – it’s more of a romance with some atmospheric thriller elements built in. Thank you to Netgalley & Pan Macmillan – Tor Books for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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