The Hundredth House Had No Walls by Laurie Penny

The Hundredth House Had No Walls by Laurie Penny
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (22 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The King was bored.

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Living happily ever after doesn’t look the same for everyone.

The storyline was creative and thought provoking. It played around with so many different tropes that I’d be hard pressed to pigeonhole it into any one particular type of plot. There were elements of fairy tales, high fantasy, urban fantasy, magical realism, and a few other sub-genres all dancing around together simultaneously. I was mesmerized by how Ms. Penny was able to mix everything together so effortlessly. While I’ve read countless fantasy novels, I was surprised time and again by how she combined familiar and not-so-familiar themes from so many different corners of the fantasy genre.

There were a couple of things about the ending that I wish had been developed more thoroughly. The king was written in a very specific way in the beginning and middle. He was intelligent and hard working, but he was also stubborn and had a tendency to assume that everyone saw the world the same way he did. It came as a bit of a surprise to me to see how these traits of his influenced the final scene. While I definitely saw where the author was going with that twist, I also thought it would have been helpful to have a stronger explanation of how and why he was evolving.

Yes, the names of the king and the various people he met on his adventures were eventually shared. I’ve decided to leave them out of this review because of how long it took me to learn them and how important those details were for their character development. Honestly, figuring out their identities was an important step in getting to know these characters better and understanding why they weren’t behaving the way one would expect people to act in this sort of setting. Getting to know them all was a great deal of fun, and I’d like it if other readers had the same opportunity to figure out these characters with as little information about their identities or personalities beforehand as possible.

I’d strongly recommend The Hundredth House Has No Walls to anyone who has ever wished fairy tales came true in real life.

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