Title: The House Of Marvellous Books
Author: Fiona Vigo Marshall
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: May 19th 2022
Publisher: Fairlight Books
Finished reading: April 24th 2022
DNF at 15% (48 pages)
“Before the sacred light of learning was extinguished for ever, before the library shelves were torn out and their contents carried away? New year forboding and gloom laid a cold finger on my heart.”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Fairlight Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
I honestly never thought I was going to end up in this situation when I first heard about The House Of Marvellous Books… I love stories with a bookish element, and in this case we don’t just have a library setting, but also a publishing house in the spotlight AND a mysterious missing manuscript. I fully expected to have a fantastic time with this story, but to my surprise the complete opposite happened instead. Sadly, I knew after only the first couple of pages that the writing style simply wasn’t for me. I tried to hang on, grow used to it and hopefully get distracted enough by the plot and characters themself to continue reading… But in the end it was no use, and I had to make the difficult decision to DNF quite early in the story. I usually try to read at least 100 pages, but in this case it felt like mission impossible. I’ll try to explain briefly why The House Of Marvellous Books and me didn’t get along.
My main issue with this book is without a doubt the writing style. There is just something about it that frustrated me from the very first page, making me struggle to convince myself to keep reading from the very beginning. It is most likely the pretentious tone, sentence building and word choice that made me want to throw my kindle against the wall… Although I had serious issues with the writing style in general. I guess this is one of those stories with a particular style that you either love or can’t connect to, and sadly I belong firmly in the second group.
On top of this, there is no plot to speak of (or at least in the part I read), and it seemed like the story mainly consisted of the random ramblings of a rather pompous and VERY unlikeable man. While I do like the idea of reading the story through daily entries in the logbook of the main character, with this particular structure it is very important to be able to connect to him. In this case, I couldn’t care less about what he had to say or what was happening, making it really hard to find the motivation to go on. Not even the bookish elements and the glimpse of the inner workings of a publishing house could save this one for me… And the supposed humor felt rather forced as well.
I tried pushing past my issues to see if things would improve, but I really couldn’t stand having to deal with the writing style, characters and lack of plot a minute longer. Conclusion: sadly, The House Of Marvellous Books and me most definitely weren’t ment to be. It seems to be a ‘marmite’ kind of book though; it provokes strong reactions either way, so don’t give up on my account if you think this story could be for you. Maybe try a sample of the writing to see how you react to it? You can find one already in the quote above my DNF review.