When I read the synopsis of Malice House, I immediately knew it was going to fit right in with spooky season. The mixture of horror and mystery sounded exactly like my cup of tea, so I was stoked to get an ARC.
After the death of her father, Malice House has been left to Haven Marbury. Haven has never had any intention of returning to Malice house, but with her marriage in shambles, she’s left with no other place to go. Upon her return, she stumbles upon a unpublished manuscript of her father’s, Bedtime Stories for Monsters. The stories are different than anything else he had published and as an artist Haven sees an opportunity to combined her art work with the stories. But when she shares her idea with her father’s bookclub, she’s met with resistance. To add to the rejection, a string of recent murders and break-ins at Malice House, have Haven questioning not just her safety but also who she really is.
The thought behind this book is incredibly intriguing. It’s unique, slightly creepy, and the vivid writing really makes the characters jump out at you. My biggest complaints with this book include pacing, some of the main character’s action, and plot follow through.
The beginning of the book had me completely engaged, the middle lagged, and the ending was highly unsatisfying. The idea of a book within a book is entertaining to say the least, and I was completely invested in learning more for about a thirds of the book. But the chaotic nature of the main character, Haven really got on my nerves. She’s definitely an unreliable narrator but at the same time makes some pretty stupid decisions. As someone who watches tons of horror movies, she makes a comment several times about her being a TDTL (to dumb to live) character in her own story. And she’s right. Haven trusts some characters she’s just met but doesn’t trust others, and has zero good reason for doing so in either instance. Almost all of Haven’s actions and decisions have zero reasoning behind them, which tends to frustrate me in a character.
In terms of the plot, I have so many remaining questions. How did this curse come to be? What actually happened in New York? Where has Kylie been all these years? Did all the Ink Drinkers die? The list goes on. My biggest question though is, what really happened in New York? It’s alluded to that Haven is leaving a domestically abusive marriage, after finding out they were never really married after all. First off: how does that happen? Second, we learn she didn’t kill her husband, but then what happened? It doesn’t have a ton to do with the Malice House plotline but it’s referenced so many times, I figured we’d get a clear understanding of what really went down. But we don’t. Also that epilogue! Is this turning into a series? I’m not sure I would pick up a second book.
Malice House had such potential but it ended up being just ‘okay’. Too many plot holes, along with a not very self aware main character and inconsistent pacing took this down a few stars for me. If you love a good magical realism book with gothic and supernatural themes than you probably will enjoy this one. If you’re looking for something dark and atmospheric for spooky, than this book will definitely be what you’re looking for.
Malice House comes out October 4, 2022! Huge thank you to Hyperion Avenue for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof.books.
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