The cover of this one got me. Just look at it and see if you aren’t lured in too. A creepy Victorian, a pale Gothic beauty and an alluring title that promises this is “book 1 of the 1st Freak House series”, how could I possibly resist? I was expecting great things along the lines of “We Have Always Lived In the Castle” or perhaps a “Flowers in the Attic” vibe mashed up with a little “Geek Love” but that’s not at all what I got. If you don’t expect those things, you might be okay.
Things start out promising, if you ignore the fact that heroine has orange hair and is not at all the temptress who appears on the cover. Two young ladies (18ish or so) have been locked away in an attic for most of their lives and are only let out for supervised walks. Hannah, an orphan, was taken in by an earl and grew up as a companion to his daughter Violet who suffers from an affliction that causes fires. Hannah suffers from narcolepsy so the two are kept squirreled away from society. They grow close and are the best of friends.
I can’t express to you how much I loved this setup. So intimate, so character based, so lovely. But then things had to go and change, as things do.
You may enjoy the changes, many appear to do so if the reviews are any indication, but I wasn’t thrilled with the direction the plot ran off in and I never recovered. Hannah is kidnapped and is apparently mistaken for Violet (who also has red, not raven hair – so the chick on the cover wasn’t her either). She is swept away to another creepy mansion where she is told she will be trained to control her powers of fire. She’s also told that she’s not really a prisoner but that she cannot leave. Hmmm, I’d be mighty suspicious were I Hannah . . . Hannah doesn’t reveal that she is not Violet because she supposedly loves Violet and wants to keep her safe. She starts to “train” with Jack, a handsome lad who is able to summon fire at will. She starts to crush on Jack and me, oh my, what’s he going do when he realizes she doesn’t have the power of flame in her fingertips? And worse yet, what’s the keeper of the castle going to do to her when he finds out they nabbed the wrong girl?
What follows is a lot of intrigue and espionage and secret meetings and vaguely nefarious characters and such. All of it terribly boring, if you’re asking me. The early character development is dropped like a hot potato and Violet is tossed to the wind never to be heard from again (at least in this installment of the series). None of it excited me, I’m sad to say. I guess I was expecting something more freakish to be going on in a house dubbed “Freak House”. For a short book this one seemed to drag on forever and I will not be seeking out the sequels which may or may not answer the many questions that I still have after finishing this installment.
Narration Notes Lucy Rayner does a fine job with Hannah’s POV, Sylvia’s is a bit too high-pitched for me but, oh my ears, does she ever butcher all of the manly voices. Jack is supposed to be a 20-something love interest but he and all the men sounded like ancient creepers/gruff old geezers and this is all I could picture whenever Jack or any of the men spoke.
It was disconcerting and that’s all I have to say.
I received a copy of this audio from Tantor Media. I hope they don't regret it!