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Flabbergasting Gothic Fantasy: Heap House by Edward Carey

Heap House is a palace made of misery, cold and pain, presided over by the Iremonger family. Made rich from baliffing and arranged marriages, all of them are as mad as a box of bric-à-brac. They are

obsessed by rites of passage and the preservation of the family foothold on the rolling hills of junk - from the upwards of the Chimney Forest to the downs of the Tunnels and the Dampness. Clod Iremonger is one of the younger family, soon to be trousered and marriaged. However, things have started disappearing and Clod can hear voices; worryingly the voices belong to the birth objects that are allocated to family members soon after their arrival. It may be a tap (HOT), a mezzaluna or a box of matches, a cuspidor, a door handle or a plug or a fireplace. Whatever they are saying it does not bode well.

Then a new downstairs maid arrives - the red haired Lucy Pennant. She goes where she shouldn't and the whole edifice starts to unravel. When Robert Burrington joins the gathering there is no end of havoc.

If you liked the Londons of Reeve, Stroud or Hardinge this will take you to somewhere more Dickensian. If you are heading in the direction of Gormenghast this will take you along that road with detours through a Downtonesque saga set in some glorified steampunked junkyard. If you were ever Coralined or Thornthwaited or Spiderwicked these corridors and staircases will echo with familiarity.

It is bewildering, inventive, linguistically playful and clever, unique, eccentric and a bit creepy. With the second volume, Foulsham, already on the shelves I implore you to try this fantastic author for an accomplished reader who needs a challenge or a shock or a literary flabbergasting.

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