Cover of The House by Christina Lauren. A window with curtains and nothing else

About the Book

Title: The House
Published: 2015

Cover Story: Windows to the Soul
Drinking Buddy: Dry(wall)
Testosterone Level: Split Level
Talky Talk: Solid Foundation
Bonus Factor: What Lies Beneath (It’s Not Radon)
Bromance Status: Good School District

Cover Story: Windows to the Soul

It’s relevant, but not especially exciting. I never thought I’d say this, but maybe they should have taken a page out of V.C. Andrews’s book.

The Deal:

When eleven-year-old Delilah got in a schoolyard fight defending a boy named Gavin, her parents sent her off to private boarding school in another state. But now she’s seventeen, and she’s back. Gavin has grown into a tall, pale hottie, and they quickly find romance. But when he takes her home for the first time…

Home is where the heart is, and in Gavin’s case, it’s literally true. His house is alive. Not like a single entity, but as multiple organisms, working together. Piano plays him beautiful music. Kitchen cooks his meals. Jar is always full of cash when he needs it. And Bed tucks him in at night. He’s always lived this way. Always accepted this as normal, even though he knows his situation is unique.

But now he’s brought a girl home, and House doesn’t like it. At first it comes across as jealous as an overprotective mother: lowering the thermostat, slamming doors, and tripping Delilah with loose floorboards. But when she doesn’t go away, when she starts discussing Gavin’s plans after graduation, House stops messing around. Gavin belongs to them. She has no place in his life, and she’s going to learn that, and learn it well. And if she thinks House’s influence stops at the sidewalk…think again.

Drinking Buddy: Dry(wall)

Two pints of beer cheersing

It’s one thing for Pee Wee Herman to live in a house where the furniture is alive. It’s quite another thing in this book. Gavin doesn’t really sugarcoat things when he brings Delilah over: This is Television. This is Hall Table. This is Shed. Oh, have some jelly. It’s homemade. Literally.

Now you’d think that witnessing events that would make you rethink everything you know about science, theology, nature and the universe, you might be a little curious. Nope, Delilah is mostly concerned that the house will see them while they’re making out. As for Gavin, he just kind of accepts things, not stopping to think why he is the only person in the entire world who has such a protector. And he never wonders what happened to his parents.

It’s only when the house grows malevolent do the pair look at the house with anything but dull curiosity. And then the book develops Hardy Boys Syndrome, where the heroes have unlimited time and resources to persue the mystery/romance/adventure.

Testosterone Level: Split Level

So after a six year absence, Delilah more or less announces to Gavin that he now has a girlfriend. Nothing wrong with a woman being upfront, but their romance was on total fast forward. No awkwardness, no blushing, just going from strangers to life partners in a couple of weeks. I felt like the author just kind of forced a relationship in order to get to the scary part.

And believe me, it was scary. Gavin doesn’t toe the line? Maybe the external doorknobs vanish until he stops misbehaving. Delilah getting too pushy? Hope she likes being trapped in the bathroom…goodness, where did that swarm of bugs come from?

When House drops all pretense of allowing Delilah in Gavin’s life, things get intense. It becomes less meddlesome mother and more Mrs. Bates, complete with a shower scene.

Talky Talk: Solid Foundation

While the first part of the book was glacially slow, things really start to move at about the halfway point. Delilah just wants to spirit Gavin away from Kansas as soon as they graduate in a couple of months. All they have to do is save a little money and walk out the door…er, Door.

But House is onto their ways. No, Gavin belonged to House first, and will belong always. Even if House has to discipline him. Even if House has to hold on to him. Hold on to him forever. It’s all for the best. Just a little tough love. House loves Gavin. LOVES him! Look at all it’s done for the boy! Can’t he be grateful? Can’t he just stay?

It’ll be different this time. Not like what happened with his mother.

Bonus Factor: What Lies Beneath (It’s Not Radon)

Movie Poster for What Lies Beneath. A woman's hand reaches out of a bathtub

So obviously, there’s something nasty in this house’s past, and it’s not termites. It’s not even an ancient Indian burial site. Gavin and Delilah, along with her gay bestie Dhaval and his mom, attempt to unearth the dead past. What happened to Gavin’s mother? Why does the house protect him like that? Is there any escape? Or will the spacious basement have something in it besides potential for a family room?

Bromance Status: Good School District

I’d put this one in any upper level school library. I just don’t see myself reading it again.

FTC full disclosure: I received neither money or beer for writing this…

Brian! What are you doing?

Just writing a review, mother.

A review? And then what? After you’ve posted it? Music? Whispers?

Mother, it’s just a book review website.

“Mother, it’s just a book review”! As if men don’t desire books! As if… ohh, I refuse to speak of disgusting things, because they disgust me! You understand, boy? Go on, go tell her she’ll not be appeasing her ugly appetite with my books… or my son! Or do I have to tell her because you don’t have the guts! Huh, boy? You have the guts, boy?



Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.