2 out of 5 stars
“I’ve never noticed this house before, and yet it’s always been right where it is. I know that.
Published in April of 2016, Dream House is the debut novel from YouTuber Marzia Bisognin. The story follows protagonist Amethyst as she finds herself outside of a house she has never seen before but feels drawn to for reasons she can’t explain. Caught in a storm, she is invited inside by the owners of the mansion to stay until the weather’s calmed down. However, when she wakes the next morning, she discovers the owners have left and she is alone, trapped by a feeling that she can’t leave.
I had relatively high hopes for this book; the general concept was something that I found interesting the minute I saw on Marzia’s channel that she was going to be writing a horror novel. Horror is pretty much my favourite genre of all time, and I’ve found some of her short stories she’s made videos of to be pretty creepy. But this fell flat so hard.
To begin with, the writing style was so disjointed and broken. I understand that English is not Marzia’s first langauge, that this book got translated, but it really feels as though she was struggling to find the right words to say sometimes. There are places where the description details every last inch of what Ameythst is seeing. I love vivid description – when it’s done right. But this wasn’t done right.
Too much of the story was spent reading through descriptions of each room or the garden or the house next door. It was unnesscary and became very tedious very quickly. I do see potential for improvement – unfortunately, it’s a LOT of improvement.
The protagonist, Ameythst, really annoyed me. I did not like her one bit. None of her descisions made a lick of sense. One evening in a stranger’s home I can kind of understand – she finds herself stood outside of a house she has never seen before but has a strange feeling about. There’s a storm happening and she is invited inside by the kindly owners to stay the night. That is sketchy but at least moderately understandable. Though even still, the first thing I would be asking if someone could take me to a hospital if I were in that position. Then she remains in the house after the owners disappear despite multiple warnings to leave and not having the greatest feeling about it herself.
This girl was so boring to read about. Literally ever single chapter had a scene that included her eating, then another of her waking up, falling asleep or passing out. Even in a situation that would mean going to investigate what the hell is happening in the house – there for giving the story that well needed push to progression that it needed – this moronic character lies down to take a nap. She finds a hidden door and instead of going inside or straight up leaving, she lays down for a nap!
She is also a giant child. In one scene, she hides under her bed covers for protection from an intruder or a ghost. She doesn’t know which it is, but still she hides under her covers – and of course, she falls asleep! At one point she describes how exhausted she is, how – when she looked in the mirror at her complexion – she looks as though she has lost weight. I didn’t understand how that was even possible for how much she ate and slept.
The other characters were just as plain and uninteresting as she was. Avery was downright creepy. He was a liar and a stalker, and none of what happens in the last few chapters of the book redeem the type of character he is during the majority. Alfred, the gardener, was a borderline stereotype with a personality that switched too often. And the Blooms were just as moronic as Amethyst.
On the subject of Avery, the whole little romance aspect with him felt so forced and unnecessary. It really didn’t make sense for any of the flirting to happen or anything else, for that matter. It just didn’t mesh with what the story was trying to be…
The ending of the book was predictable, and I managed to predict it quite early on. I know the story is short but it shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did to work out where the story was going. That being said, there are a fair few unanswered questions like:
1) Where is Alfred’s sister?
2) Where were the Blooms? During the ending scene of the novels, the Blooms return and reveal some things to Amethyst that contradict earlier events in the novel.
3) What happened to Avery’s parents?
4) Who was the man who visited Amethyst?
5) Who was the old lady who kept showing up and freaking out that Amethyst needed to leave the house? Where the hell did she swan off to?
So many things are placed into speculation in this novel, there are way too many loose ends for a story this short. It felt like for each question that got answered, two more were left unanswered – and with no reason for there to be a sequel to the story it doesn’t feel as though the answers will ever be given.
By the time I finished reading this novel, I found that the only thing I liked was the original concept. The concept was what drew me in in the first place. Being trapped in a house that could be haunted, discovering the mysteries inside and out, figuring out what the hell is happening? I like a good ghost story, I love a good mystery, but this did not deliver.
I like Marzia; I’ve watched her YouTube videos for a really long time now and think she’s an adorable human being, but this book was just so bad… It wasn’t scary or spooky – it was day-to-day simulator. The trend of YouTubers getting book deals is something that has started to grow very tiresome. Some people do things and they have original ideas that pan out, then there are others where the idea falls short. A person shouldn’t be offered a book deal just because they have over a million subscribers, and as much as I like Marzia, she feels like a prime case for that.
I can see that she tried hard with the story, and it really did have great potential but for me, personally, it fell flat.