Reviews

The House of Drought by Dennis Mombauer

nevtelen's review against another edition

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2.0

There is some good writing here, but, overall, this one failed to capture my interest.

First off, I didn't feel like I got to know any of the characters. They were mostly people who things happened to, rather than characters with interests and hopes and dreams and setbacks. And the fact that I didn't care much about the characters meant the horror aspect of the story didn't hold much horror for me. Some of the kids disappear into the house? Oh well. I didn't really know them anyway. The plot structure didn't help. By the end it made sense, but it made the beginning confusing when the stories and characters switched around so often.

fourfootedbeasts's review against another edition

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challenging dark mysterious tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? N/A
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0


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kittenmittons's review against another edition

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3.0

The tagline of "A haunted house for the climate change era" isn't incorrect, but nor do I feel it's wholly accurate either. For example, that doesn't give you a hint of the folklore (!!!) style of this novella, which was my favourite aspect of this story. I loved how the different acts felt almost like folktales in a lot of ways; I maybe would have read an entire book of just different vignettes like this.

The last act and chapter both had some tension, which was nice to see how the entire book culminated in a clear action climax. And the author's writing lended itself well to this - I found his writing pretty simple, and this is absolutely 100% a personal preference but: I like my horror or my folktales to feature really atmospheric, visceral writing. So the writing didn't quite work for what I personally wanted.

I think there were some very unique and interesting ideas in this - haunted house that has a direct connection to water and thirst! Pretty cool way to tie it into modern climate change, right? But I feel like a lot of the ideas could have benefited from more page-space, as there was a LOT to explore in a short novella. I don't know if a novel-length expansion of this would have been for me, but I think it could have led to more exploration of the house's history and mythology, as well as a deeper connection to climate change and more character development - actually, I think I've talked myself into thinking that it could very well be for me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Overall, this wasn't quite like anything I've read before, and in a fairly good way!

zoeelizabethk's review

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dark tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

2.0

I wish I had known more about Dennis Mombauer and The House of Drought before agreeing to review. I think if I'd known more I'd have known that this was not going to be for me. The House of Drought is a speculative fiction novella centered around a house that seems to be involved with strange events in the local area. I think that if you like odd speculative fiction that plays with storytelling, if you like unsettling horror, or you're a fan of The House of Leaves, there's a decent chance that you will appreciate The House of Drought.

However I'm not really into any of that. Like with House of Leaves, I can kinda appreciate what Mombauer is trying to do, but I don't enjoy it. I also found the storytelling style hard to follow. He dumps you into the story but then backs up and the story is told through almost episodic scenes from a couple different perspectives. But additionally there are several different timelines, each of which do this skip-hop-jump kind of framework. The author allows you to try to fill in the gaps to figure out what's really going on. It increases the unsettledness of the story since the story feels broken and creepy. But I mostly just found this frustrating since I didn't care about the story and didn't want to read.

All in all, I think there are probably people who are going to like this novella and appreciate it, but sadly I did not like it very much.

Thanks to Stelliform Press and Book Sirens for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

radioreading's review

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dark mysterious reflective medium-paced

3.0

karlakayjenniges's review

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dark mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

“The House of Drought. The upside-down house. The house hibernating inside the house.”

Bernhard Zimmerkrug and his associate travel to Sri-Lanka to record a documentary exposing climate change and the severe drought in Anathakandu. While there he comes upon an old mansion and out of curiosity, he decides to explore and learn the history of the house. He believes his documentary needs something more; a human connection. What he learns and experiences will change his life.

We are given the history of the house during different eras and the people that were in some way connected. From the original builder and the people who once dwelled there. There is an ancient lore connected to the mansion, one that has always watched over the land to preserve and prosper it, a ghost of the forest. The building of the house has hurt the spirit and the forest in which she dwells. The house has become a curse upon the land. 

The house has many, many secrets.

I feel one must keep an open mind while reading this. Read it for what it is, a work of fiction to entertain and yet still give a look into climate change and its effects. It has many unsettling moments as we are introduced to the lore of the forest and how the house is perceived as a labyrinth of hidden halls, an otherworldly side, with a very dry, dusty, parching, claustrophobic setting. It is never really explained how the house became a curse, but we are given a story of a woman who hides her children within to protect them from harm. A lineage of stories piecing each puzzle together, but never quite getting that foothold because we are shifted from the characters experiences within the house and then brought back to their entry into the house, but as the house is a labyrinth, it gives the feeling of also being taken through the many layers within. I felt it was very effective keeping with the themes that eventually are more revealed. 

Good imagery, descriptive and atmospheric. Not necessarily frightening, a bit unsettling if one imagines oneself stepping into an old colonial mansion and becoming trapped within its corridors of dryness and dust.

 “It’s worse than the world outside, worse than the forest and the fields. This place doesn’t belong here; it never should have been built.”

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

hsheehan85's review against another edition

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3.0

I received this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The House of Drought takes place in Sri Lanka. A film crew is there making a documentary about climate change and how it is affecting the area when they notice the colonial mansion above. The crew finds people to talk to about the different families who have lived there and hear strange stories about the Dry house and the Sap mother.
I would not call this a haunted house book like the description does. I would say it is a cursed house that has a strange ability. In fact, most of the description is misleading. I expected to read a very different book from what I actually read based on the description. I really liked the premise of the story in the description and wish I got more of that story.
However, the book is still interesting, but it is short. I liked reading about the different people who had lived in the house and what happened to those families. I wish there was more on a couple of the families, but it was still a good story overall.

butterflybrianna's review

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fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.0

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC! 

House of Drought was a short horror novella that covered climate change, but more than that it talked about colonialism—which I found to be a larger theme than climate change. 

I think the story was well written. It was a great novella. However, I feel the themes of the book were inadequately addressed due to the length of the book. I believe that it would have been more impactful had it been a full novel, where we would have been able to get fully engrossed into the world and see how it was changing and be moved by the change. 

kowwie's review

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dark mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.0

 I received a copy of "House of Drought" ! Thanks Booksirens! Here's my honest review--

House of Drought-- in my opinion-- doesn't feel like a horror book. It's a similar take on the "House of Leaves" trope-- but kind of with a folklore backstory that sets it aside as unique. I enjoyed this and found that kind of refreshing.

However, I had a little trouble keeping up with the characters and didn't feel connected to any of them. The book switches from POV several times, and I just felt kind of confused and disconnected for most of my read. 

acornsbooksandcoffee's review

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dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.0

I was incredibly excited by the idea of ecological horror. The concept and the premise were absolutely exciting, and there are places throughout where the plot really hits that mark and sticks it to you, however much of the plot moves just a little too fast. There are number of stories told as a group of filmmakers aims to make a climate change documentary about the region. I wish that the individual stories told about the House of Drought, as the plot seemed to move once I became invested in a character. That said, the plot is pretty fast paced, and this made for an easy, thought-provoking afternoon read. 

Thank you to NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.