Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Hodder & Stoughton (paperback), 2015
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.
But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.
The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.
The fire begins in the basement.
WHAT I THOUGHT
Rooms is a hugely enjoyable book. I liked the fact the viewpoint switches between the people living in the house and the ghosts who haunt it. I loved the way the lives of the living and the dead intertwine. Rooms is chilling, amusing, tragic and unbearably sad at times. The characters, including the ghosts are complex and messy. None of them is particularly nice or sympathetic but they are fascinating to read about, sort of like slowing down to watch a car accident to see which corpse gets carted off first. I did enjoy the chapters with the ghosts, Sandra and Alice a lot more. They are sympathetic characters. I didn’t enjoy the escapades of Caroline, Trent and Minna half as much which made the book uneven at times. I still enjoyed it though.