The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

The Death House - Sarah Pinborough

Extremely well written, this book was told from the first-person by Toby and was narrated in the present tense, interspersed with narrative at the end of some of the chapters about the time before current events.


I didn’t know what to expect from this when I picked it up, all I knew is that I’d been grabbed by the synopsis which explained that Toby, the protagonist, had a normal life until it suddenly became unravelled by a blood test. The results of this blood test lead to him being taken from his family and put in a facility, nicknamed The Death House. The Death House is a place that houses young people who have tested positive on their blood test and they are monitored for any sign of sickness.


The synopsis lead me to believe that this would be a chilling book and it was, but not in the way I had expected. I thought that the chills would come from a story riddled with suspense, but instead it came from the characters and their predicament. It was, then, a predominately character-driven book.


Not far into this I was slightly disappointed to find that it was a very different book to what I’d presumed and I was nearly going to put it down, but I’m very glad I didn’t because it did improve. Toby was very astute for his age and while I didn’t love him and did feel a bit distanced from him, I enjoyed spending time with him.


For a large portion of the book not much happens and we instead learn the dynamics of The Death House and the interactions between its residents, specifically Toby and a girl. What I really liked about this book is how the reader felt as clueless as Toby and his friends about the situation they were in. Instead we learned how they dealt with it all, specifically through relationships.


During the last quarter of the book more starts to happen and it’s worthwhile to continue if you do consider giving up, as I did. There was a surprise ending and while it did feel a bit rushed, it was well done.


Easy to follow, this predominately character driven story wasn’t what I had in mind when I first picked it up, but I’m glad I read it and will check out the author in future.