Thursday, 22 October 2015

Heap House by Edward Carey

review by Maryom

The lives of the huge, rambling Iremonger family are inextricably mingled with the rubbish heaps which surround, and at times threaten to engulf, their home, Heap House. Not only have they made their fortune, and their house, from the rubbish, but, out of all the things found in there, a special item is chosen for each Iremonger, given to them at birth and kept close throughout their life. Although the Iremongers are attached to these 'birth objects', they still appear to be just things - but Clod can hear them call out a name; his own sink plug, for example, is named James Henry Hayward. Now his aunt Rosamud has lost her door handle, named Alice Higgs, and the world of the Iremongers is in turmoil. While Clod is enlisted to search Heap House for the door handle, a new servant has arrived from London; her name is Lucy Pennant, and when she and Clod meet they realise there are more things to be uncovered than a mere missing door handle.

This first book of the Iremonger series is a quirky, original read. Carey has built a fantastic steampunk world full of weird but relate-able characters, where plugs, skillets and even a marble mantelpiece have secret names and hide a distressing secret; although so weird it's a world you can fall into and believe in completely. There are illustrations (by the author) to bring the characters to life, and a cut-away diagram displaying the hotch-potch construction of Heap House, with a room salvaged from the Heaps and added on here, and a staircase pushed in there. I know I often say this - perhaps too often - but it's difficult to describe the plot without giving the underlying secret away, but there's a lot of tense adventure, some life-threatening moments, very weird goings-on and, at the bottom of it all, that secret upon which the Iremongers' fortunes have been made.

For anyone who loves the weird and wonderful this is a must read - forget about the target age (10 and over, I'd guess) just read and enjoy! The concept is wondrous, the writing engaging, the tale enthralling - the only downside (slight spoiler), a cliff-hanger ending, isn't too troublesome as the next instalment is already published, and I for one can't wait to read it and find out what happens next!

Maryom's Review - 5 stars
Publisher - Hot Key Books
Genre - steampunk, fantasy, 10+ to adults

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