What if you could hear objects talking to you? Young Clod Iremonger's "talent" helps him learn more about his family's sacred belongings, but it also leads him to some unexpected discoveries when those objects begin to disappear. As chaos and danger threaten, will Clod be able to save the day?
It all really began, all the terrible business that followed, on the day my Aunt Rosamud's door handle went missing. It was my aunt's particular door handle, a brass one. It did not help that she had been all over the mansion the day before with it, looking for things to complain about as was her habit. She had stalked through every floor, she had been up and down staircases, opening doors at every opportunity, finding fault. And during all her thorough investigations she insisted that her door handle was about her, only now it was not. Someone, she screamed, had taken it.—Heap House by Edward Carey (The Overlook Press, 2014, p. 1)
- Setting: alternate history Victorian Britain, in a strange house on top of London's rubbish heap
- Circumstances: When fifteen-year-old Clod and downstairs servant Lucy Pennant team up to figure out what's gone wrong with the Iremongers' Birth Objects, they uncover strange family secrets.
- Characters: Clod Iremonger, a sickly teen; mean Aunt Rosamud; feisty servant Lucy Pennant; various Iremonger cousins and adults (not all of them pleasant)
- Genre & audience: Gothic mystery for middle grade and young teen readers, but fun for the whole family
- Themes: family; friendship (a bit of romance?); secrets; upstairs / downstairs; sense of self; our relationship with our belongings
- General thoughts: I've truly just started this, but I'm taken with the fun creepiness of the book and the fractured names of the Iremongers. I like that the story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Clod and Lucy and that the Birth Objects are crazy things, like safety pins and bathtub plugs, and that they have ordinary human names. I also can't resist the black-and-white drawings (by author Edward Carey) and the maps of the house.
- Miscellaneous: This first in a planned trilogy. If you want to know more about the books, see some of the drawings, and discover your very own Birth Object (mine's a key!), check out the Iremonger Trilogy website.
- Recommendations: I haven't read enough to make a real recommendation, but if you like Gothic, a clever story, and a bit of creepiness mixed in with some deeper themes, then you'll want to give Heap House a try.