Book Review: The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert (2/5)

8 Oct

My book club always tries to pick a spooky read for October to fit into the Halloween theme. I don’t read much horror so this is always a treat for me and a time to explore something new. Unfortunately, the pick this year didn’t do it for me. Maybe I’ll change my mind when my book club meets tonight, but it’s not looking good. I wanted to write this before my mind is swayed as my opinion often changes when we have a big discussion.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert

Summary from Goodreads:

In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up.

Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan’s lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan’s library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan’s past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan’s mind.

I was on board with this book for the first half. Then it started getting derailed too much for me. I wasn’t OK with the factory or the wax figures and I was for sure not on board with the greenhouse. I’m guessing there’s some kind of symbolism in this book that went way over my head. The questions in the back didn’t allude to it and I’m sure I’m going to be disappointed when I figure out what it was. I think something this wacky should have been more grounded in reality or had a more obvious reference to the subject that was being described through the plot. Right now, I think it has something to do with an old orphanage and how we view our worth based on physical appearances. That’s all I got. I’m frankly sick of trying to figure this one out.

Morgan was the only credible character in the book. Engel was never given enough of a personality to feel like a real character. Dr. Crane was always kept at arms’ distance and also didn’t feel very real. He seemed like he was an apparition like the children. It was too odd that he could so easily leave his home and his job and live in the mansion. The children were really creepy to me and I didn’t think they were really children for a minute.

Along with being the only credible character, Morgan was also my favorite character. He was vulnerable when no one else seemed to be. He cared about how he appeared to others and was always afraid he would scare people or that his speech was too hard to understand. That vulnerability was relatable to me. The rest of his story was a bit too fantastical for me to appreciate, but that part of it I could buy into.

Charles Lambert
Image via Simon and Schuster

I liked the first half of the book, up until they leave in the car. From there on, I just wanted it to end. The children were perfectly creepy in the home when they were playing and doing minorly creepy things. They were still believable. The factory and the greenhouse were too much for me.

I stopped caring about what was going on and just wanted the book to end at that point. I kept looking for symbolism or a deeper meaning but I was so shocked by what was happening that I couldn’t. It made no logical sense to me and it was too hard to ‘like’ something that was so far removed from reality. After all the chaos that surrounded the greenhouse, I was hoping for more closure than we got. Overall, the ending was a huge disappointment.

It’s hard to identify a theme for this book. There wasn’t anything I could really latch onto. The closest I can get is Morgan becoming more comfortable with his appearance. Though I’m not sure what the lesson was from that. To me, this book was a bit of a mess and I didn’t get much out of it.

Writer’s Takeaway: Subtelty can be great. It can make for a wonderful reveal at the end of a book that knocks the socks off of your readers. But this was too subtle. Whatever happened, it was too subtle for me to understand. I was left confused and looking at reviews of this book, I’m not the only one. As a writer, you shouldn’t have to explain to people what’s happening. They should be able to understand it from the book without commentary. I doubt any of Lambert’s beta readers understood the first time around. And by the second, they already knew what he was going for.

This book started off with huge potential but fell really flat for me. We’ll see what the book club thinks. Two out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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2 Responses to “Book Review: The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert (2/5)”

  1. carhicks October 12, 2018 at 2:41 PM #

    Too bad this one did not live up to your expectations. Betty luck with your next spooky story.


    • Sam October 12, 2018 at 2:42 PM #

      I’m flying through the next one. It’s saved horror for me this year. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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