July 23, 2015

Victoria Scott: "Four Houses"

Title: Four Houses* [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
   *Note: read it for free on Wattpad
Series: None
Author: Victoria Scott [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife
Year: 2011 (expanded and reissued 2014)
Age: 14+
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Peculiar story. Atmospheric writing.
Cons: Reverse chronology detracts from tension. Lead's voice sounds a bit too adult.
Will appeal to: Those who like a well-told story with a sensual vibe.

Blurb: A frightened girl. An empty field. Four houses. Which house would you choose?
FOUR HOUSES is a dark short story told in an unusual format that leaves readers wondering how they'd react if found in the same situation as seventeen-year-old Maddy. (Amazon)

Review: I've been wanting to read Four Houses for years, but since I can't shop on Amazon and the likes for lack of a credit card, this ebook has been sitting in my TBR list endlessly, while I was waiting for it to appear in physical form (perhaps as a novel companion). It turns out that I was right not to lose hope, because Victoria Scott has recently made a generous move and uploaded Four Houses on Wattpad!
[Note: I assume this is the 2014 enhanced version, not the 2011 release]. [...]

I can't say this short story lived up to its hype for me, though. It may partially depend on the fact that I had already gathered too much information earlier on, but on the other hand, the predicament Maddy finds herself in is pretty obvious from the start (at least when you've read a few afterlife stories), and the hour countdown doesn't add much to the story - if anything, it detracts from tension, because we don't need to wonder what will befall the 17 y.o. lead. (Which reminds me...why are we told her sex and age in the very blurb? Along with the reverse chronology device, it leaves us with very little left to uncover).
Also, while the writing is able to create a peculiar atmosphere, its sensual vibe seems more appropriate for an older character. Had I gone into this story without reading the blurb, I'd have assumed Maddy was a young woman, not at all a teen. Not to mention, the use of a word like "euphoria" by young adults (I'm talking about the ending, that is, where it all starts) sounds off. I was a very well-read 17 y.o. once, but "euphoria" is not a term I'd have used in a normal conversation, especially with one of my peers.
Despite my reservations, I liked the story for its concept, and I do think the writing was able to paint a vivid series of pictures. Also, this particular take on the afterlife is different from all those I've encountered so far, which is refreshing. Hence the 3.5 stars.

For more Afterlife books click here.

Original Four Houses cover...that I very much prefer

4 comments:

  1. Bummer when you've waited so long and the story isn't what you had hoped but at least you enjoyed some aspects of it.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Plus it was free! ;)

      ...OK, maybe I've become choosey and not easily pleased in my old age, because I'm very much going along the lines of 3.5/5 stars lately...

      Delete
  2. Well, 3.5 stars is quite okay in my opinion- but it does suck when you had to wait for it as much as you did and it did not live up to your expectations :( Ah well, it's great that at least the concept made up for it! Great review, Roberta! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree - even 3 stars are OK for me (while some reviewers seem to use such rating for books they didn't particularly enjoy). Anyway, I encourage everyone to read this story, because I'm a picky reader, so I'm sure many people are likely to respond to it better than I did!

      Thanks Ruzi!

      Delete

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