Friday, May 4, 2012

The House on Hound Hill

The House on Hound Hill
Maggie Prince
Sandpiper, 2003
$15.95, Paperback
January 4th, 2012

Genre: Horror, Historical
Age: 10+
Description: Emily and Jonah’s parents just got divorced and their mom has uprooted them to live in an old house in the historic London neighborhood of Hound Hill. Soon after seeing a strangely dressed boy hunting for his lost cat, Emily begins to learn about the history of the area and experiences horrid headaches and hallucinations about living in a strange past. It turns out that her house was once in one of the first hit villages of the Black Plague and it seems those who died haven’t quite yet moved on.
Opinion: The House on Hound Hill was a quick read but was only okay in quality/suspense. The parts I liked were the historical bits about London during the Black Plague in 1665. The book tries a bit too hard as a horror/mystery story incorporating time travel as well with Emily’s time traveling hallucinations and the fact that the strange boy also appears to be traveling from his time to the present day. The time travel just makes the overall book have a weak premise. The characters from the past and the present go back and forth all willy-nilly with no thought or consequences. Supposedly Emily’s ability to see the people from the past is meant to help them move on but for all her trouble she actually ends up with the plague. The most compelling part of the story is the historical details—of which there were too few. It was interesting to see how the victims of the plague were treated—locked up in their houses for 40 days—how the symptoms emerged, how people went mad, and how the bodies were dumped in plague pits. These details were the true “horror” of the story.

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