The Death House by Sarah Pinborough (Book Review)

Rating 5/5


Toby is a boy who has forgotten how to live.
Clara is a girl who was born to die.

Toby’s life was perfectly normal . . .
Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House. Isolated from the outside world the inhabitants of which are watched for any signs of a mysterious illness . . .

Clara was a girl who had everything. Adored by her friends and her family, her life was destined for greatness. Now, Clara is the newest resident of the Death House and she’s determined not to allow her life to end there.

This is Toby and Clara’s story.


I just finished reading The Death House last night, staying awake that bit longer because I needed to know the end!

I first came across Sarah Pinborough when she did a Q&A Facebook Live in The Fiction Cafe Book Club, which is an amazing group by the way. She had just released her new novel Behind Her Eyes (link at the end), but I was more interested in her YA novels as I’m studying all things YA this year. All her books sounded amazing but I settled on reading The Death House first and I’m so glad I did! This book had me gripped.

Toby is the main character and he has a lot to deal with, taken away from his family he is now a member of The Death House and boss of dorm 4. The premise of the novel is immediately gripping – all these children are awaiting the onset of a terrible disease, at which point they will be taken to the mysterious sanatorium, never to be seen again. They have a defective gene. What makes it more heart-wrenching is that we fall in love with all the characters in the novel. The boys in dorm 4 are all very distinct; brainy Louis, young Will and Jesus-loving Ashley. Their bond is an unspoken yet profound one. Tom arrives late to the dorm throwing some tension their way, but the real conflict begins with the arrival of Clara. A beautiful dancer teenager, who is bright, witty and full of life. She encapsulates the older boys and we watch in trepidation as her and Toby become close.

The use of flashbacks from Toby’s life before works really well, giving us depth and understanding about Toby’s feelings now. The flashbacks are short, not taking us away from the present story for too long, and dotted throughout. A perfect mix.

The story flows well with wonderful descriptions of the house and grounds. But mostly it is the characters and the journeys they all go on that draws you in; Toby isn’t the only character who grows and learns. They all have their individual battles to fight, trying not to get too close to their housemates because they know what’s coming, but at the same time are all bound together by the terrifying reason they are there. I will need a few days to get over this before picking up my next book. A great read.

You can buy The Death House on Amazon.

Read more about Sarah Pinborough here.

Check out her latest novel, Behind her Eyes.

The Death House

Author: Jennifer Kennedy

Mother, teacher and writer. I love all my jobs but writing holds a special place in my heart. I hope you enjoy reading my short stories as much as I enjoy writing them!

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