TITLE: The Open House
AUTHOR: Sam Carrington
PUBLISHED: December 2020
MY RATING: 3.5/5
I received an eARC copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. My thanks goes to NetGalley and the publisher Avon for the opportunity to review this book.
*Synopsis taken from Goodreads*
Everyone’s welcome. But not everyone leaves…
Nick and Amber Miller are splitting up and selling their Devon family home. But despite the desirable location, the house isn’t moving. Not a single viewing so far.
When their estate agent suggests an open house event, Amber agrees, even as she worries about their gossiping neighbours attending and snooping around their home.
But Amber has more to worry about than nosy neighbours. Because thirteen people enter her house that afternoon, and only twelve leave.
Someone doesn’t want the house to sell, and is willing to do anything to stop it…
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I requested, and was accepted for this book back in October, and yet I completely forgot about it until I happened to stumble across another blogger’s review which sent me to my NetGalley shelf to check if it was the same title. I wanted to prioritise it because the publication date had already passed (10th December) and I didn’t want to be much behind it with my review. I needn’t have been concerned because I started and finished this one in only one day, it would’ve been one uninterrupted read if all the boring adult stuff like cooking dinner and washing up hadn’t interrupted me. However, despite it being a book that I just couldn’t put down it was one of my most confusing reads of this year.
So, why such a headscratcher?
Well, I began reading, and from the first couple of pages I was hooked and so frustrated whenever I had to stop for a moment, and yet I couldn’t work out quite what was keeping me engaged. Interestingly, I could find a couple of elements that were a little frustrating but nothing concrete to explain why it was so unputdownable.
The story begins by introducing us to our main character Amber. Recently separated from her husband, the plan is to sell up the marital home and move from Devon to Kent to live with her new boyfriend Richard. Whilst they wait for the house to sell Amber is to stay put with her two sons. Despite the house being in a desirable location it just won’t garner interest, so estate agent Carl decides an open house could be the answer. Whilst Amber is sceptical she is also getting pretty desperate so she reluctantly agrees. She vacates the home and decides to utilise her doorbell camera app to try and watch who goes in and out. It is through this that she realises thirteen people went in but only twelve left, and it is from this point on that everything starts to get more than a little weird and pretty scary.
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The frustrations that I held up until this point were that every character (besides Amber and her sons) had some elements attached to them to render them suspicious, and it was all seeming a little far fetched. I couldn’t work out how it had come to be that everyone in Amber’s life, (even the estate agent) were not to be trusted. It was starting to feel like it was going to be one of those stories where there are so many red herrings that it gets to the point where you don’t even care what the truth is because it has all got a little too silly. However, whilst this would usually be enough to make me give up on a book, as I said there was something that not only kept me reading but literally had me devouring the story.
As the book progressed it went from strength to strength. It all made more sense as to why each character was given their backstory and the plot was unfolding nicely and at a great speed. It followed Amber’s increasing concern, as she got more desperate it sped up, when she tried to explain certain things away it too slowed for a moment. Overall it was a very clever and intriguing plot, and my concerns from the opening chapters were both unfounded and soon forgotten.
I enjoyed getting to know all the characters, and I was really rooting for Amber to figure out who was behind the sabotage of her house sale. I also really felt for Nick, whilst the breakdown of their marriage was his fault and yes he was flawed, there was still something about him that made me confident he was a good guy. Richard, on the other hand was a character that I tried hard to like but I just couldn’t, maybe it was because I wanted Amber to get back together with Nick, I’m not sure, but from start to finish I just didn’t like him. The only other character that I didn’t like was Barb (the dreaded mother in law) but certain events made me view her differently in the end, she’s a complicated individual shall we say. My only criticism with regards characterisation lies with Jo and Keeley (Amber’s friends). Yes they represented a strong friendship for Amber, but they didn’t ever really get given a storyline, or indeed an ending, instead it felt as though they just popped up when Amber needed a babysitter. It’s not that they were bad, I just feel there was more potential there that was missed.
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My main criticism for The Open House is the ending. I found Amber’s decision making to be uncharacteristic of the woman we had come to know throughout the book. In addition whilst the plot was certainly extremely clever, it felt as though there was a rush to explain everything in the closing chapters. The many twists and turns were well executed and whilst I did guess one element quite early on there was still plenty to leave me surprised in the end.
Overall, this is a thought provoking thriller that I’m sure even the most clever reader would struggle to completely figure out. I would definitely recommend picking this up, particularly if you are a fan of the thriller/mystery genre. After all, there isn’t a lot more creepy than the thought that there just might be somebody hiding in your home! A perfect read for this time of year when the nights draw in early.
Have you read The Open House? What did you think about it? If you haven’t read it do you think that you will? As always I would love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for reading, I hope that you enjoyed!