The House by Sebastiana Randone

HOUSE
The House by Sebastiana Randone
Publisher: Xlibris
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (150 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

The House is an adult fairy tale, time travel romance mystery.

Clad only in a torn night dress, a woman finds herself, late one afternoon, in an ancient forest. How she arrived there remains a mystery, both to her and the reader. Finally a frightful looking house arrives in view. Night is moving in and faced with the prospect of remaining in a wood, where only wolves and predators revel, she reluctantly seeks refuge in this unwelcoming house.

Once inside, and taken aback by a most unexpected interior, she soon discovers a room where a magic portal laying in wait transports her to a Georgian estate. A baleful altercation with a beastly, drunkard Lord of the estate (archetype to the evil wolf in traditional tales) sets the tone for this narrative. Unable to find an escape route, she remains confined in this somber historical setting for many months, interacting with a curiously dysfunctional household.

Finally she finds her way back to the enigmatic house from which a journey to Regency London follows, where she meets with an interesting cast of individuals. Although it soon emerges that there is a relationship between the characters from both periods, the mystery surrounding her presence continues to confound all.

One foggy eve, a down cast man arrives and is introduced to the time traveler. When their eyes meet, an inexplicable sense of familiarity is felt by both. Returning home after a large stretch in Florence, the poet is instantly taken with this mysterious beauty, a meeting of which promises restoration for the heart broken man. Frustratingly however, there are obstacles hindering this unusual love match. Soon a past life connection emerges, and by the last pages, many pieces of the puzzle form a startling picture.

Upon the final curtain, the biggest surprise of all is revealed. With a conclusion, that, although bizarre is positive, like all good fairy tales.

No mystery can be solved without clues. The problem is that Scura can’t remember how she arrived in the forest or even what her life was like before this adventure began. She knows she’s the only one who can piece together what happened, but how can she solve a riddle when she barely has anything to work with?

As soon as I read the first line of this book’s blurb I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Scura is an unnamed protagonist for the first several chapters, and the idea of a woman the reader knows nothing about running through the woods in a torn night gown makes the premise even more intriguing. As the plot slowly unfolded I came up with and discarded several theories about what might have happened to her. While I did figure out her mystery before it was revealed, the process of determining if I was correct kept me invested in Scura’s tale until the very end.

The secondary characters are so well-written that several of them could have carried the plot nearly as well as Scura did. Lady Elizabeth Chatterham is one of the first people the main character meets, and her response to Scura’s account of what happened to her instantly endeared me to Lady Elizabeth’s point of view.

This book is full of archaic words and phrases that were common in the 19th century. While the syntax appears to be an accurate reflection of the time period in which Scura travels, some of the descriptions were so flowery that they slowed down the plot. During the first few chapters I found myself spending almost as much time looking up unfamiliar words as I did reading. I understand why the author chose this writing style, but it would have been helpful if she had included contextual clues about the meanings of the more obscure terms.

Scura’s character development also puzzled me. Early on she is described as an Agnostic who is highly skeptical of metaphysical topics, so I was surprised to see her accept unlikely explanations for what has happened to her so quickly. I briefly wondered if her change in personality was another clue about what had happened to her, but it was never quite clear to me if this was the assumption the author intended for me to make.

It isn’t easy to seamlessly blend so many genres into one book, but Ms. Randone makes it look effortless. The mystery and romance were so tightly woven together that every scene that propelled one of these storylines forward also added depth to the other. I figured out certain plot twists in advance, but I was surprised by how often the characters did or said something that I never would have guessed was coming from them.

The House restores the magic of fairy tales for adults. This is as good of a choice for anyone who adored these type of stories as a child as it is for newcomers to the genre.

Comments

  1. I would like to bestow my gratitude to Astibe for reading and posting a review of my book The House. It is a well written and articulate critique, of which I am most humbly grateful. As a good critique should be, it is constructive and informative. Adeline(the writer character in The House) authored the book. So when I wrote it I had to consider the florid style of writing that often took place in regency era books. That being said, many have also made similar observations as yourself about the language. And as a novice writer I have taken note. i am even considering writing a second edition, maybe after I finish my latest book, which is set in New York 1989, thus the language is simpler, even though the plot is rather convoluted. With kind regards Sebastiana

    • You are very welcome!

      I hope you’ll consider submitting your next book to LASR once it’s finished. I’d be quite interested in having the chance to read and review it.

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