The Children's Home: Book summary and reviews of The Children's Home by Charles Lambert

The Children's Home

by Charles Lambert

The Children's Home by Charles Lambert X
The Children's Home by Charles Lambert
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Book Summary

For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor - and the startling revelations their behavior evokes.

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.

The Children's Home is a genre-defying, utterly bewitching masterwork, an inversion of modern fairy tales like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Golden Compass, in which children visit faraway lands to accomplish elusive tasks. Lambert writes from the perspective of the visited, weaving elements of psychological suspense, Jamesian stream of consciousness, and neo-gothic horror, to reveal the inescapable effects of abandonment, isolation, and the grotesque - as well as the glimmers of goodness - buried deep within the soul.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A thoroughly original entry into the tradition of ghost stories, eschewing convention ... A one of a kind literary horror story." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. The Children's Home is a magical, mesmerizing tale about the courage it takes to confront the unknown." - Booklist

"The folkloric undertone and stylish prose, which is replete with gruesome and wondrous images, keep the reader turning the pages, though the latter chapters lack the intensity and focus of earlier chapters, and the thought-provoking conclusion isn't as satisfying as it could have been." - Publishers Weekly

"The Children's Home is a not-nice sort of fairy tale, where the magic doesn't sparkle prettily but boils and oozes, where the Prince has a face of tatters, where the children take grown-up revenge on their monsters. It's also, somehow, a searching, empathetic narrative about forgiveness." - Owen King, author of Double Feature

"A beautiful and uncanny novel by a writer who never ceases to surprise." - Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation

"Charles Lambert's muted, beautiful prose leads the reader through The Children's Home on a chain of burning questions: Who? When? How? Why?...Sometimes heart-stopping, sometimes heart-warming, it is a provocative tale, ripe with intrigue and atmosphere. I loved every weird moment of it. " - Nuala O'Connor, author of Miss Emily

"Dark and nuanced, eerie and quiet, The Children's Home creeps behind the curtains of your imagination. This book stays with you." - Amelia Gray, author of Threats and Gutshot

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Author Information

Charles Lambert

Charles Lambert is the author of many novels, short stories, and the memoir, With a Zero at its Heart, which was named one of The Guardian's Ten Best Books of the Year in 2014. In 2007, he won an O. Henry Award for his short story, "The Scent of Cinnamon." He has been shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Lichfield Prize, and the Willesden Short Story Prize. He was born in Lichfield, England, and currently lives near Rome, Italy.

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