House of Windows

House of Windows

Good evening readers. May the Fourth be with you. Please note that the following review is based on an advanced reader copy that I received from the publisher and therefore may contain slight differences to the finished work.

House of Windows was written by Alexia Casale, author of the Waterstones Award nominated The Bone Dragon. It is due for release on 6th August 2015 and is a contemporary novel which follows the life of a fifteen year old boy during his first year of University. The book is a stand-alone story and so you don’t need to have read any of Casale’s other work to enjoy it.

Nick Derran hates that people think of him as being a genius. Just because he’s been accepted into Cambridge University three years early does not mean that he is different to anyone else his age, he just knows that he works a lot harder. He does this purely to get the attention of his father, Michael – a man utterly consumed by his work – although his plan does not seem to be working that well.

Although Nick is immediately enchanted by the beautiful city of Cambridge, he finds University much more difficult than he imagined. Although he finds the work easy, the age gap between him and the other students makes it hard for him to socialise. How can he possibly fit in with people who think of nothing but drinking when he’s too young to even enter the pubs?

In an attempt to make friends, he joins the rowing team but this quickly leads to disaster. A trip to a police station and hospital later and he’s no better off than when he started. Yet, as Nick settles into the life of a student he begins to discover friends in the least likely of places and finally starts to learn that maybe he’s not as alone as he once believed.

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The Bone Dragon

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The Bone Dragon boasts a rather impressive array of accreditations. It was named as a Book of the Year in 2013 for both the Financial Times and the Independent, as well as being shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and long listed for the Branford Boase Award. It was first published in 2013 and is the debut novel of Alexia Casale.

The novel is told from the perspective of Evie, a fourteen year old girl who has been adopted by a loving couple after years of terrible abuse at the hands of her maternal grandparents. At first, she is unable to open up to her new family but eventually plucks up the confidence to reveal to them the horrible extent of her injuries – she has never told anyone her ribs are broken and has been suffering in silence for years.

During her surgery, a piece of Evie’s rib is removed and the doctor gives it to her as a souvenir. Although her mother finds this morbid, her Uncle Ben helps her to carve the rib into a dragon as part of her therapy.

While Evie struggles to come to terms with her dark past by day, in her dreams the dragon comes to life and guides her on moonlit walks across the fens, allowing her to find peace in the night. At first this is therapeutic for her but gradually the dragon dreams begin to grow more sinister. Although cryptic, the dragon seems to be urging for her to take revenge on the people who have wronged her and begins to  fixate on the fact that it will soon be the time of their ‘dark moon’…

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