Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Tilting House by Tom Llewellyn

The back of this book advertises "Page-turning intrigue in the tradition of John Bellairs and Ellen Raskin". Now, I don't like Ellen Raskin, but there is a certain disconnected quality to the mystery that reminds me of her. If you're a Raskin fan, this is a good thing. If you're not....But as for John Bellairs, well, I don't think whoever wrote that cover copy had read any of his works recently. Bellairs' stories begin in an atmosphere of mist and confusion that grows into helpless terror.


So what is this story? Actually, quite good. It begins with the Peshik family, Dad who works in a museum, Mom a school secretary, Josh, and his younger brother Aaron, and Grandpa moving into their first house. Everyone is excited to think they're finally getting out of the cramped apartments they've lived in their whole life...until they see what they can afford. Tilton House is....weird, to put it mildly. The floor tilts, the walls are covered by what seems to be a madman's ravings, and the real estate agent is so scared she barely hangs around long enough to complete the sale. If that weren't bad enough, the neighbors are just as strange. The Talking Man sits on his front porch, lost in his own confusing world. The Purple Door Man steals bikes and is all-around nasty. And what about the neighbors inside the house? There are talking rats, mysteries, and random occurences. There are stories and small triumphs.

Each chapter is a story in itself, often seemingly disconnected to the main plot of the story, which concerns the mysterious past owner of the house. The general plot isn't particularly cohesive, and the rather cliched "find a huge treasure and solve all your problems" ending of the story is exasperating, but the writing is strong and lively and the stories intriguing, with just enough scary elements to keep the reader shivering.

Verdict: A good choice for reluctant readers, or those who want something scary, but not too scary. The short chapters will pull in the reader and let them take the story in bite-size doses and the writing is excellent. I'll wait and see if there are future additions to what appears to be a series before adding to my library though.

ISBN: 978-1582462882; Published June 2010 by Tricycle Press; ARC provided by the publisher at ALA

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