Review: Our House by Louise Candlish

Fi Lawson arrives home to find a moving van in her driveway. At first, she thinks she's mistaken, she and Bram certainly aren't moving out. But there they are - another family, moving into Trinity Avenue. Moving into her home. How can this other family possibly think this house is theirs? And where is Bram?

Our House Title Image

Background

Louise Candlish has written twelve novels with the release of Our House in 2018. Our House is a Sunday Times bestseller and a #1 in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Review

The idea behind Our House is an intriguing one. A woman arrives home to find a moving van parked in her driveway. At first, she thinks she’s mistaken; one of the neighbouring houses has recently been on the market. But the closer she gets the more certain she is. There are strangers moving into her house.

Candlish has structured Our House in an innovative way. The story is told through the eyes of the main characters, Bram and Fi. The reader follows Fi as she experiences the loss of her home and the disappearance of her husband. Her story then alternates to a podcast, with future-Fi walking the listeners through her experience. It's a creative way to do things and not something I've seen before.

Bram's story is also told in two forms. Again, one is more traditional, with the reader following Bram in the lead up to the loss of his home and disappearance. The main question is 'how has this happened, and why?'. Some of this is answered in the progression of Bram's story, but much more is revealed in his other narrative - a confession letter.

The use of a podcast and confession letter is creative and allows the reader both more questions and more answers. There are two sides to every story.

Although the confession letter is a good idea, it also means that much of the mystery surrounding the main plot is quickly dispelled. The lack of continuous mystery, unfortunately, results in a narrative that drags.

Normally this would make me put a "thriller" down, but I kept reading because I wanted to know whether I was meant to like Bram and Fi or not. They were unlikeable, but was it on purpose? Having finished Our House, I'm still not sure.

Besides making questionable decisions, Fi and Bram tend to both only be concerned for themselves and their menial day-to-day lives. In Fi’s case, her self-concern is relevant; her house has been sold from under her, displacing her family’s life and disrupting her social status. But I did still find her self-concern frustrating.

The characterisation may just not be to my particular taste, of course. A lot of people do like this book!

I also think that Our House may have benefited from a manuscript cut to reduce some of the slow moments and predictability. I found that the story dragged between the generally easy to predict twists.

Where Our House suffers from predictability throughout, it’s the surprise ending that stands out. Candlish has crafted a few final moments that cut like a knife.

If Candlish's following novels focus on concepts as intriguing as Our House and include more devious surprises like the ending here, I will definitely read them. I expect that even with improved characterisation – or maybe just different characters – I would have enjoyed Our House more.

Why Read This Book?

  • Interesting concept
  • Innovative structure and storytelling methods
  • Female main character

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3.1Overall Score

Fi Lawson arrives home to find a moving van in her driveway. At first, she thinks she's mistaken, she and Bram certainly aren't moving out. But there they are - another family, moving into ...

  • Plot
    4
  • Characters
    1.5
  • Theme
    3.5
  • Structure
    4.5
  • Dialogue
    3
  • Pacing
    2.5
  • Setting/s
    3
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