Cover Image: A Good House for Children

A Good House for Children

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Member Reviews

I yearn for eerie tales, ones that haunt your psyche and soul and in A Good House for Children I have found just that.

his book is one of the highlights of my year. A gothic haunted house tale with elements of folk horror, it gave me shivers and chills of the best possible kind. Told in alternating time periods, each holds its ground and both are equally compelling. The stories  linked by the struggles of motherhood, madness and ghosts, let the atmosphere slowly build until it envelopes and drowns the reader in this terrifying and suffocating tale. Reminiscent of The Little Stranger, this book is everything a ghost story should be. Perfection!  Thanks to @booknerdscoven & @marinerbooks for an arc.
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A Good House for Children is about a family who moves to a huge old house on the coast in an effort to live a quieter life away from the city. Unfortunately they’re not alone there.

I was hoping to love this book but it was just ok.  I’ve said before in my reviews of other books that involve mothers and motherhood that I’m not a mom., maybe if I were id have found this creepy.  This was a quiet story more about mental illness than a haunted house.  

Thanks to the publisher, author, and NetGalley for the e-arc I received in exchange for my honest review.
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Written in dual perspectives of Lydia, a nanny in the 70s helping out a recently widowed mother and Orla, a stay at home mom in present day, A Good House for Children was atmospheric, haunting and unsettling. The house has a greedy past that no one talks about, and Orla can feel something is wrong. Her husband Nick is away for work all the time, leaving Orla on edge, afraid and on the verge of a breakdown.

While it wasn’t scary necessarily, it was disturbing in a way that will leave me thinking about it for a while. If you love gothic settings and ghost stories, A Good House for Children fits the bill. Thanks to Mariner Books for my eARC.
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The chilling story of two women, living in different decades, but in the same mysterious mansion.  Is it really a good house for children, or is it a good house for no one?

Dual timelines, a gothic setting, a house with secrets, ghostly apparitions, children behaving strangely, relatable themes of identity and motherhood.  These are some of my favorite storylines and elements.  A Good House for Children by Kate Collins had all of these and more.  Unfortunately, however, I don’t feel like the book reached its full potential. The writing was beautiful, but the action moved so slowly.  Even most of the spooky parts lacked intensity.  Honestly, I struggled to get through it.  My favorite parts were the ones involving Orla’s painting: How the house was affecting what and how she painted, and the best, most intense scene when Orla’s reaction to the painting makes you wonder if she is losing her mind.  I wish we had gotten more of that.  I wanted more from the ending, as well.  I typically don’t mind ambiguous endings, but this one left so many questions unanswered and plotlines unresolved that it felt very unsatisfying.  

Overall, however, A Good House for Children was an interesting take on a haunted house story and a moving exploration of the role of motherhood, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in those themes that doesn't mind being left with your own interpretations.  

Thank you Mariner Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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First off, I'd like to apologize for a late review.

This is a pretty standard haunted house book, with beautiful writing and atmosphere. And for this reason, I enjoyed it. But there is just too many loose ends, too many characters that blend together, and ultimately too many pages and inconsistencies for me to have liked it. Both character's are nearly indistinguishable from one another, despite everything. Now, I am not a mother, so I couldn't really connect with the conceptual idea of horror within the sacrifice made in  motherhood. But I AM terrified of children so I think that counts. still, I wasn't too into that idea simply because I couldn't relate to it. When the end came, there was so little cohesion I was just kinda surprised. 

The author is extremely talented at settings and believability, and this is supposed to be their debut - so I don't mind too many of the inconsistencies too harshly, and probably will still check out their future work. This shows a lot of promise for more to come.
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I LOVED this book, we have already purchased it for our library and it continues to be a hit. The way the story is told leaves you wanting more.
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A Good House for Children by Kate Collins is a dual timeline story about 2 families who both have come to live in a mansion called The Reeve which is located on a clifftop just outside of the small town of Dorset. It’s here within the walls of the house and in the gardens outback that strange things seem to happen. The children appear to have friends or playmates while spending time in the backyard that don’t really exist. The women hear things that can’t be explained and even see another woman or spirit of one who seems to be interested in the young children. It’s like the house is haunted and that the spirits of previous residents have remained there taking claim to the house even though they are no longer alive. It’s a house where tragedy lurks just waiting to happen. It’s a creepy, eerie read but one I really enjoyed. If you like reading spooky type stories, then I recommend you read this book. I’d like to thank Scene of the Crime Early Read program and NetGalley for the arc to read and review. I thought it was a good story, not too over the top but definitely on the creepy side and I’m giving it a 4 star rating. I look forward to reading more by Kate Collins in the near future.
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This book really got to me.. kind of creepy and interesting at the same time.
Orla who was a painter, but now is a mother to 2 kids. Her husband decides that they should move into a house that will give the family more room, and he will commute to work. Then he declares he has found the perfect house and moves them. She senses there is not something right and hears things that are not really there, and doors closing, etc.

Orla then starts to look into the history of the house and why was it vacant when her husband bought it?
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I thought as a debut novel this was a really good gothic novel! I loved the eerie feel throughout the novel. I'm obsessed with old/haunted houses so I definitely connected with it.
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Unfortunately, I had to DNF this one. I made it to about 40% of the way through. I just kept getting the feeling like I’ve heard this story before. I wish this had something more unique to keep me interested.
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A Good House For Children by Kate Collins was satisfying, moody, atmospheric, tense read. The back and forth between previous habitants of the house and the present created a sense of dread, wonder, and anticipation. Past events gave light and hints to present happenings but never quite gave anything away. In this way, the novel successfully draws you in and keeps a solid grip on you straight through to the end. The pacing of the book is perfect - a slow burn, but not necessarily slow-paced. This would be a perfect "beach read" for those of us out there who prefer to keep our summer reading dark, creepy, and moody, thank you very much. Excellent book, highly recommended.
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I want to thank Kate Collins, Mariner Books and NetGalley for this ARC read for my honest review, 

I want to start off my review by saying this book really wasn't for me but I could see others enjoying it. I don't like when stories gloss over things too much, I like things to be explained a little more. I also have a very hard time with descriptions sometimes and it felt like this one did it a little too often for me, many times I found myself having to reread a paragraph a couple of times to figure out what was going on. It also felt like a VERY VERY slow burn for me, I don't mind slow burns but I didn't feel it picked up until almost 70% for me. If these are things you typically enjoy in books then this will be a good read for you. 

We have two female POVs that move into this house that seems like a dream, something too good to be true... Doors that were locked are now wide open, something in this house seems to want something, voices are heard and people who shouldn't be there are seen... Are they going crazy or is there something in this house? 

Unfortunately I felt like there were so many holes in this story that it started to remind me of Orla's paintings... there were things that were mentioned that were just never brought up again until I convinced  myself that I was making things up from being half asleep. The main characters were okay, nothing I really liked about them or disliked. With some work on the story I would like it a lot more!
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I am so thankful to Harper Collins/Mariner Books, Netgalley, and Kate Collins for granting me advanced digital access to this jarring thriller. I couldn't put it down and can't wait to consume more of this like-minded content going forward.
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When I say slow burn, I mean it. If you love the gothic atmosphere and storytelling techniques then you'll LOVE this dual POV story set in two different timelines within the house. Honestly, I wanted a little more in terms of pacing but it has a satisfying conclusion!

Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for the ARC!
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This is an atmospheric and disturbing tale of a house on the top of the hill, alongside the ocean. The house has stood for over 200 years, but people rarely live in it for long. The book focuses on two families who live in the house, and the experiences they have in it. The house beckons to them when they first arrive to view it, but over time, it turns ominous. You know, instinctively, how things are going to turn out.

This book is categorized as a horror story, but I’d say it’s more of a suspense. There’s no gore, no blood, no violence. It primarily follows the characters of Lydia, a nanny, and Orla, a mother and well-respected artist. The house has effects on both and on the children in their charge. Both women are arresting characters, and the children are lovable, especially Philip and Sam.

It’s an absorbing tale, and an haunting one. It’s sad and mournful and powerful. If you enjoy eerie suspenseful stories, this could be the book for you.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. I thank all involved for their generosity, but it had no effect on this review. All opinions in this review reflect my true and honest reactions to reading this book.
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Oh my, from the first chapter, you know that nothing good is going to happen at The Reeve, an old country mansion that Orla and Jack McGrath and their children buy to escape London.  The creepiness builds as the book goes on and we the owner from 40 years earlier, young widow Sara, her nanny Lydia, and Sara's children. This is the best kind of gothic novel, ghosts, children, an old home that's a character in itself.  The novel is so tautly written and the suspense and tension continues to build until the end.  I could not put this book down...although I may have nightmares tonight.
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This was a very solid, if at times very bleak, gothic thriller. I wanted to choke the life out of the husband (and other male characters), so it was hard going a lot of the time, but overall this was engaging and spooky.
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A fascinating and surprisingly feminist take on the gothic genre, it doesn't upend the applecart, but does provide enough atmosphere and ambiance to keep you engrossed. At times it seems a bit slow to develop, as the prose does get a tad too descriptive at times, but through this technique the author is able to help us feel the magnitude of the location, and the dual timelines are a intriguing way to peek into the many mysteries the home has to offer. A Good House for Children is an excellent example of genre, without having to bend the formula like so many modern forays into the format, and is a nice balance of frights and atmospheric oppression, as in the best of its genre peers.
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It’s not a good house for anyone, actually. Maybe a solitary adult male, but it seems that hypothesis has yet to be tested. Honestly, I think the house just needs to be left alone. Maybe even knocked down. I don’t care how pretty and old and historic it is. 

This book was honestly a creepier read than I thought it would be, but I think that may have something to do with being a mom. (If you aren’t a mom and it still creeped you out, then please feel free to let me know). I don’t creep out easily. I don’t get scared watching most horror films or reading most horror books, but one trigger I do have is my fitness as a mother and/or my capability to keep my children safe. A large part of this book has to do with mothers questioning their ability to keep their children safe and their fitness as a mother. 

The setting does nothing but add to this dread. The titular house is called The Reeve, and it’s on a cliff in Dorset County in England. The house was built in the early 19th century, on top of those legendary Jurassic-era cliffsides, and has hardly been updated since. There are woods on one side of the property, and a large garden. In the early timeline, there’s a pond on the grounds. In the later timeline, the pond has been haphazardly filled in and covered with grass. This dwelling is far, far from any major city, sitting on the very southern coast of England where no one but locals and tourists have much interest in coming through because there’s not even a ferry crossing near the area. It’s isolated, on top of a hill, and doesn’t exactly look inviting. Not to mention, the locals all know The Reeve has a history to it, even if they don’t like to talk about it. 

In the past timeline, set in the late 1970s, the story is told from the point of view of Lydia, a nanny for a widow named Sara who has four children. When Sara’s husband died, she sold their home in London and moved all of them out to The Reeve, which Sara’s husband had purchased for them as a summer home before he passed away. Sara works from home as an accountant, Lydia cares for the children, and a local lady named Dot comes in and does the cooking and some light cleaning. 

In the present timeline, The Reeve is purchased by Nick and Orla, who were looking to move to the countryside and closer to his mom and dad. However, Nick didn’t even consult Orla before purchasing the home, and she felt obligated to go along with his decision. Their son, Sam, has selective mutism, and they have an infant girl as well. Nick promises to be home every weekend as he works during the week in Bristol, to help with the massive amount of repairs the house needs, and to buy Orla a car since he’s taking their only one. Nick, of course, either falls short on these things or doesn’t follow through at all. 

Collins writes this book with an incredible sense of atmosphere and imagery. Her imagination is vibrant and she manages to capture on page these scenes filled with a combination of morbid wonder and fascinating dread: ghostly children sitting together on tree branches, ghost-white limbs disappearing around tree trunks, bushes, and through fields of tall grass. Dark hair whipping around a corner. A marble rolling down the stairs. Do ghosts live in a realm that adheres to temporal linearity? Are ghosts trapped only in their present and future, or is it possible that we can see ghosts of people who haven’t died yet? 

I saw something that called this a feminist tale, and I have to disagree. Lydia doesn’t fully understand, comprehend, or try to empathize with Sara’s grief. All the women in town know there’s something wrong with Orla, yet they only make a token effort to intervene and support her. In the end, everyone–even the women–give up on Orla and Sara. No one tries to rescue them. It feels as if the mothers pay the price for the children, and that’s not feminist. Not at all. 

Sadly, in a lot of cases it is realistic. And then those children are left without their mothers. Who says if they’re better off after that? 

This book will creep you out and freak you out, but then it’ll make you think about the sacrifices women make in the name of motherhood and all the additional sacrifices we ask them to make. Ultimately, how much is too much to ask of a woman?  

I was provided a copy of this title by NetGalley and the author. All thoughts, opinions, views, and ideas expressed herein are mine and mine alone. Thank you.

File Under: Ghost Story/Gothic Fiction/Historical Fiction/Horror/Literary Fiction/Mystery/Psychological Thriller/Suspense Thriller/Women’s Fiction
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This novel was eerie and atmospheric in the best possible way. A slow burn of a novel, but sure to please fans of feminist gothic vibes.
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