cover image The Death House

The Death House

Sarah Pinborough. Titan (, $14.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-78329-803-7

The Death House of this coming-of-age novel is where "defective" children abducted from their families are warehoused as they anxiously await the emergence of symptoms signaling their inevitable deaths. Toby, the appealing 17-year-old narrator, struggles to adapt to the grim sociology of the place, even as he copes with the usual teenage angst and moons over Julie McKendrick, his great love that might have been. But when freckle-faced Clara appears on the scene, the reader knows that Julie will soon be a fading memory and Toby is about to find love in the midst of death. Will he beat the odds? Will love conquer all? If Pinborough (Beauty) was aiming at Ishiguro territory, she has fallen short. Readers, rather than being sucked into her world, are more likely to find themselves distracted by a host of unanswered questions and resentful of the constantly escalating emotional manipulation. Young adults may enjoy this novel; adult readers will find it less Never Let Me Go and more Romeo and Juliet light. (Sept.)