THE HALF BURNT HOUSE
Katie always looked after her beloved younger brother Chris - until she left him alone for one selfish afternoon, and their picture-perfect family fell apart. Although Chris survived the attack, the scars ran deeper than the ones left across his face. Now they're adults, and they haven't spoken in years. Then she gets a call, from Detective Laurence Page.
Page is facing an unusually disturbing crime scene. Alan Hobbes, a distinguished and wealthy philosophy professor, has been brutally murdered. Hobbes was living in a sprawling mansion - but one that remains half-ruined by a decades-old fire, wind and rain howling through the gaping, creaking roof.
Page only has one suspect: Chris, caught on CCTV at the house. But he has plenty of questions. What could cause a man as wealthy as Hobbes not to repair his home? Why did he seem to know his death was coming, yet do nothing to stop it? And why was he obsessed with a legendary local serial killer?
But Katie only has one thing on her mind. She knows this is her last, best chance to finally save her brother, and make up for her negligence all those years ago.
But she can't possibly imagine just how much danger he's in...
I really enjoyed Alex North’s previous book, The Whisper Man and so I was excited to receive the ARC for The Half Burnt House. I did approach with a bit of caution though, as I didn’t enjoy another book of his, The Shadow Friend as much – thinking that the simple premise had been over complicated by multiple POVs which led to a confusing read.
I think The Half Burnt House also suffered from the same problems as I had experienced with The Shadow Friend. There’s a lot of character points of view throughout the chapters and some of them are kept vague on purpose. I struggled to keep in my head what was happening for which character in which timeline and what was relevant to the plot. I didn’t really feel like I got to know any of the characters very well either which certainly didn’t help to keep them all straight in my head.
The book has a paranormal aspect to it, with a character who can potentially see into the future and changing timelines, but no-where is this particularly explained and there isn’t really a payoff for this either, so it just felt like a convenient plot device to explain away plot-holes rather than a proper sci-fi or horror element. I have a lot of questions that weren’t really explained properly, and I don’t feel like some elements were well explored.
Overall, The Half Burnt House was disappointing – unnecessarily confusing with characters I didn’t particularly care for. Thank you to NetGalley & Penguin Random House – Michael Joseph for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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