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THE DUTCH HOUSE by Ann Patchett

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested. 

Title : The Dutch House
Author : Ann Patchett
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 352
Genre : Literary Fiction
Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date :

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 3 star review

THE DUTCH HOUSE was an epic family saga told over decades, detailing the level to which a family can be messed up. There was nothing predictable about this tale and overall the tone of the story was pretty sad and depressing. However, it was rich in characterisation and description.

The story was told from the POV of Danny, at first a young boy, at the end in his fifties. Alongside, his sister Maeve, they navigated traumatic family events that initially revolved around their house (The Dutch House) and later away from the house. There was an amazing cast of side characters, my favourites of whom were Dr Able, Fluffy and Andrea (who doesn’t love a Cruella de Ville character).

I spent various points in this book incensed on behalf of Maeve and Danny. Danny had all the potential as a young man to turn out differently from his father but as the book progressed, I did feel he became something of a self-centred cold fish and he definitely had shades of his father. I adored Maeve as a character, she was the rudder to this story and many of her story lines just plain hurt.

It sounded so nostalgic when he said it, the three of us, as if we had once been a unit instead of just a circumstance.

The return of Elna to the story was not welcome to me and I just knew that she wasn’t going to be great news despite the understandable glee of Maeve. The wrap up to Andrea was a little disappointing as well; these mothers were just awful.

I am left reflecting on how much this book made me feel and how involved I became with this family despite my middling rating. I would definitely read Ann Patchett again because she creates such characters that you cannot help but get swept up by them.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing and Tandem Collective for the review copy.

CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length…everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. 

Title : Clockwork Angel
Author : Cassandra Clare
Series : The Infernal Devices #1
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 528
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Walker YA
Release Date : November 7, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Micky’s 4.5 – 5 star review

I’ve got to tell you that I entered this read as a newbie with trepidation, I had tried City of Bones earlier in the year and found it a little too teeny for me. I wasn’t sure that I would gel with the world but oh my word, I was off the mark with that. I was gifted a copy of the special edition, joined a readalong and the whole experience was absolutely fantastic.

Firstly, I can say that no knowledge of the The Mortal Instruments series did not hold me back at all. I learnt about the world all from this book and enjoyed the revealing of the rules, creatures, magic and beings existing in Victorian London. All this was improved by that historical fantasy setting, knowing London well, I enjoyed a geographical insight into places and the visual that created.

Stepping through the Institute’s iron gate, Tessa felt a bit like Sleeping Beauty leaving her castle behind its wall of thorns.

What was special to me about this book was the amount of characters at the fore. Whilst Tessa, Will and Jem seemed the lead protagonists, there were so many other characters to get your teeth into properly, more than your average side characters. I liked and want(ed) more from Sophie, Charlotte, Henry and Thomas. I loved to hate Nate, the Magister, the Dark Sisters and those damn clockwork creatures (shudders).

The plot was complex and interesting. Everything about this book was enhanced by the visuals, visuals of the main characters which were absolutely superb. The pictures of the MCs were perfect for my imagination, they all fitted for me. The sketches at chapter beginnings were subtle and beautifully done, it created a whole atmosphere within the book that might not have been quite as strong without the visual. There were twists and turns, turns and twists galore but so that I could follow the plot well.

The book finished well and on something of a cliff, but I know a lot of answers now. I do have about 40 more questions as a result however. I strongly feel that Will is on self-sabotage mode, that this triangle-ish thing will end badly and that Jem is just an all round good guy. But then, who likes the good guy after all (me, actually). What a great experience this was, I am excited for more.

Thank you to Walker Books and Tandem Collective for the gifted special edition and for creating the readalong.