I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I have to say that the appearance of this book is an absolute delight, both outside and in. The cover drawing shows a young Clod Iremonger. Inside is a floor plan of the upstairs of the house – in the back endcover of the book is a floor plan of downstairs. Scattered throughout the book are portraits of some of the characters – beautifully realised and very cleverly drawn by the author Edward Carey.
In 1875, Clod Iremonger, of Forlichingham Park, London begins his narrative with a tale of how his Aunt Rosamud lost her door handle. He lives upstairs in Heap House, with his uncles, aunts, cousins, hordes of Iremongers, a dynasty born and raised on the proceeds of rubbish – the ubiquitous ‘heaps’.
Lucy Pennant, orphaned of her parents by Heap Fever, is taken to Forlichingham Park to work. She lives downstairs, a serving girl, working with all the other downstairs Iremongers.
And outside, the heaps wait.
There’s a distinct yet wonderfully eccentric tinge of Dickens in this book; the story is slightly mad, yet offered to the reader with the utmost seriousness. The characters are larger, and smaller than life. Their lives revolve around the smallest of circumstances and conditions, and yet they impact upon all the others in Heap House.
This book is unfailingly clever and unrelentingly engaging. The writing is superb; the characterisations are masterful; the illustrations are utterly bewitching. I cannot wait for the sequel!
on 15 October 2013
Edward Carey's "Heap House" is a vast, intricate and wonderful creation populated by eccentrically named characters and their objects. The hero, Clod Iremonger, is soulmate to a universal plug. His vile cousin Moorcus is linked to a toast-rack. All these odds and ends turn out to be more than they seem as the story lurches and veers between the storeys of the Iremonger pile and the mysterious rubbish heaps which surround (and eventually invade) it. Clod's adventures in this fantastic reimagined nineteenth century world engage our sympathies as well as curiosities and a cliff-hanger ending makes one hungry for the next instalment. Bring it on, Edward Carey.
on 6 September 2013
An utterly captivating story that is weird, highly imaginative, and unlike anything you will have read before. I fell in love straight away with the strange, gothic world Carey has created. Objects that speak? A house full of secrets? Maps?! Yes please! And his hero and heroine are wonderful, vivid characters you'll be rooting for all the way.
For fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, Neil Gaiman's Coraline, and Laika's stop-motion films (which I sincerely hope Heap House will join the ranks of - it's perfect for it).
on 5 August 2015
"A Gathering, a Gathering, quieter than the storm!"
The Iremongers are powerful, rich and very peculiar. They own the heaps – the rubbish – and have built a house (and empire) upon them.
But Clod is even more peculiar than the other Iremongers. He hears objects talk to him – birth objects, a possession given to each Iremonger as a baby, chosen specifically for them. His birth object is a bath plug called James Henry Hayward.
When Aunt Rosamund's doorhandle – Alice Higgs – goes missing, things begin to go downhill.
Especially when Lucy Pennant arrives and begins to work as a servant downstairs – and Clod begins to hear the objects say more than just their names for the first time in his life...
It turns out there's a sickness in London. And in Heaphouse things are changing – strange things keep happening.
Does it have something to do with Clod's strange ability? With the birth objects? What secrets lie among the heaps that surround the house of the Iremongers...?
I'd seen Heap House talked about. I'd thought, yeah, that looks pretty good. And then I didn't buy it. But when I heard Olivia Mead talk about the series, heard how excited and in love she was, I knew I needed to read it as soon as possible. And I am now kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. Heap House is brilliantly bizarre and bonkers and so, so good! It is literally perfect for all Lemony Snicket fans – and for anyone who likes crazy steampunk-esque, Victorian-era books.
Clod was a little odd (ha! that rhymed), but he was brilliant. Sure, he was a little naive and innocent at times (especially considering his age), but he was inquisitive and clever and funny too.
Lucy was awesome – snarky, curious, rebellious and exactly what I like in a leading girl.
I'm not going to lie to you, their relationship felt a little... not so real. Maybe it's because it's a MG book and I'm used to YA romances. Maybe it's because it felt a little quick. Maybe it's because I'm nit-picking – but I have to nit-pick, especially since this is pretty much my only nit to pick at!
Ok, this analogy has gotten really weird and kind of gross...
I just want to add that, towards the end, they were kind of totally adorable. Yes, they fell for one another fast. But they were very funny when the two of them together, and very cute too.
Now, I'm going to move onto the rest of the Iremonger family – simply put, that family be crazy! Crazy and bizarre and absolutely intriguing. My favourite Iremonger had to be Tummis: he was just so amazing and the sweetest, funniest character ever, bless his cotton socks. I rather liked Uncle Aliver too – he was brilliant. I loathed Moorcus and was confused by Grandfather and Grandmother. The downstairs Iremongers (non-full-blooded family members who still had Iremonger blood, but not enough, and were therefore servants) were almost as quirky as the Upstairs Iremongers. Basically, the whole supporting cast was kooky and intriguing and often hilarious.
I adored Carey's writing: it was so fitting with the time period, so exciting and intriguing and brilliant. I loved that we got multiple POVs – our two main narrators were Clod and Lucy, but we got journal snippets from various other members of the Iremonger family. This mode of storytelling was brilliant and kept me utterly hooked. As did the plot: from the moment Heap House began, the story grabbed me and refused to let go. It's hard to write too much about the plot – no spoilers! – but I adored it. It was dark and addictive and suspenseful and mysterious and intriguing – but with funny moments too, to lighten the heap up!
This world was pure genius! It was grittier, dirtier and way more interesting than any Victorian-era setting Dickens wrote about. It had elements of steampunk in it (AKA, one of my favourite ever genres and fashion style), but mostly it was dark and dirty and made of curious objects and whispering voices and piles of rubbish... It was like Victorian grunge-punk... OK, that's not a thing, forget that. But seriously, I was totally hooked by this creepy world and was absolutely desperate to find out all of its hidden, dirty little secrets.
I'm finding it really hard to describe Heap House well, to find the words to do my feels justice. It was just so bonkers and so brilliant and so much fun to read! I never knew what to expect, didn't want to stop reading and was absolutely desperate for Foulsham the moment I put Heap House down! I mean, that ending... Wow! Talk about huge finales and shock cliff-hangers!
Seriously, though: it you are looking for something fun and unique to read, love Lemony Snicket and a book that can make you laugh, think and sit on the edge of your seat, Heap House is an absolute must read!
Every child born to the Iremonger family is given a birth object that they must carry with them their entire lives, for some this isn't a problem - Clod can easily fit a bath plug in his pocket - but for others it makes life difficult, you can't exactly carry around a mantelpiece so Clod's grandmother has lived her whole life stuck in one room. Nobody knows what would happen if they lost their birth object but they know it won't be good and they get the chance to see why first hand when one of Clod's aunts misplaces her door handle.
Heap House is a very quirky and unusual read, it's clear that Edward Carey has a cracking imagination and I was immediately caught up in the story and wanting to learn more about the Iremonger family. I loved how all of the characters had unusual names and it was interesting to discover how their birth objects fitted their personalities. I was also very curious about this strange and twisted version of London, a London that has become a giant rubbish heap. The Heap is almost a character in it's own right, it's constantly changing and is an incredibly dangerous place to be. The Iremonger family live in a huge house in the middle of the Heap, their house is made up of bits and pieces of all different kinds of buildings and it's the kind of place you could spend weeks exploring and still never uncover all of it's secrets. The Iremongers scavenge through the Heap looking for useful items which they basically recycle and find new uses for. Their family is very insular, they don't allow strangers to visit their home, they always marry within the family (there are a huge amount of second, third and fourth cousins to choose from) and even the servants must have some Iremonger blood in them.
Clod has spent his whole life inside Heap House, he quite likes the idea of visiting London but he is unable to travel through the Heap because of his ability. Clod hears things, inanimate objects all seem to call out to him telling him their names, he is the only member of his family who hears this but it's an ability he has had for his entire life and it means he finds things very overwhelming if he is surrounded by too many objects. Lucy is an orphan who has only just arrived at Heap House, she is a distant relative and has been brought home to join the ranks of servants who look after the house. Upper Iremongers aren't supposed to mix with the servants but when Clod and Lucy meet they find themselves embroiled in a set of strange events and life at Heap House will never quite be the same again.
Heap House is a really difficult book to review because it's such an unusual tale, I think it's the kind of story that you'll either fall head over heels in love with or unfortunately, like me, you could end up struggling with it. I loved how unusual the story was but I just felt like it dragged a bit and I spent a lot of time confused and not at all sure where things were going. Even after reading just over 400 pages I'm still bemused about what was actually going on and I'm not sure if there really was a point to it all. It's quirky, I loved the gothic feel to it and the wonderful illustrations but I never managed to connect with any of the characters. The story is narrated by both Clod and Lucy, with occasional short sections from other important characters, but I never really felt like I got to know much about either of them. The hint of romance felt rushed and unbelievable and I feel kind of indifferent about what will happen to them in the rest of the trilogy. That's not to say this is a bad book, I think it just wasn't to my taste. If you're looking for something completely different then it wouldn't hurt to give this a try though because there really is a lot to like about it.
on 17 November 2014
The first book in The Iremonger Trilogy will be the book that decides whether you continue with the series or not. Edward Carey has created a unique, complex and (for me) utterly captivating world but I am aware that this Clod and Lucy’s story won’t be for everyone.
Heap House and its inhabitants are isolated from the city. The Iremongers find treasure it the rubbish (heap) that keeps growing. Clod isn’t quite like the rest of his family, he hears objects whisper and recently they’ve not just been saying names…
The book is told in alternating chapters by Clod and Lucy (with a few important exceptions) which gives you insight into the strange dynamics of Heap House both as master and servant. Despite this it was actually Tummis that was my favourite character.
The story is intricate and I think the pacing worked because it gave you the time to really get to grips with the going on of Heap House. I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while and I’m sorry it took me so long. Very happy that Foulsham (book 2) is sitting here waiting for me to turn the first page.
on 1 March 2015
Heap House starts a little slowly, I realise now, because it has to set up a lot of world building. The world building isn't heavy handed - it is just necessary to build atmosphere. This is Victorian London, but not as we know it or I've seen before by other author's imaginings. The first few chapters held my attention because the world building was interesting - then the story got going good and proper and I was hooked in - with no hope of putting the book down until I'd finished. The story is a breathless ride up and down the corridors and chimneys and halls of Heap House and then out onto the sea of Heaps itself - an ever menacing presence surrounding the house. Victorian the story maybe, but it has much to say about the disposable world of the 21st Century too. I could gush about how great this book is for pages and pages, but instead, I'll just entreat you to read it. I think fans of Garth Nix, Philip Reeve and Neil Gaiman will LOVE this book.
on 17 January 2014
got this book for Christmas, and just finished it, it is really fantastic, love the characters, description of the house and the plans of the house to keep looking at while you're reading are great - all the characters are totally believable and i loved the two main ones! so glad i noticed this book!
on 4 September 2013
Excellent book, weird and wonderful like Edward Carey's other novels. Very well written and a great read from start to finish, certainly one of my best reads this year. I would highly recommend this book
on 11 July 2014
This is complete delight of a book both to read and to look at, as soon as I picked it up it felt special. I loved the characters for being so terrifically grim and odd. I was completely immersed in the plot and can't wait for the next part of the story. If you are looking for something clever and beautifully crafted which will make you so very glad you wandered into the 9-12 section this is definitely it. Best read in the evenings, by candlelight (even though it's not very good for your eyes, in which case you should probably have the main light on too).