Book Review: The House at the End of the World by Madeleine Marsh

by SteveRogerson

The debut novel from Madeleine Marsh combines mystery, horror and romance as the story of a strange house is unravelled.

The undead have risen and a group of survivors from the battle take refuge in a house that is more than it seems. All their wishes come true, but who is the old woman knitting toys and drinking sherry and what, rather than whom, is the landlord?
The House at the End of the World is an engaging combination of mystery, romance and horror from new author Madeleine Marsh.

The House at the End of the World
The House at the End of the World
Madeleine Marsh

Four people take shelter in an old house with broken windows on the outside, windows that are strangely intact on the inside. That is the opening of The House at the End of the World, the debut novel from Madeleine Marsh. But the windows are almost the least strange about this house as the four start to settle down in their new temporary home and they cook their first meal from a well-stocked kitchen.

The world that they knew has changed, the dead have become undead (they have rejected the “zombie” word), and other creatures occupy the earth. These are four of the survivors and they have battled hard to be so.

The house seems to cater for all their needs, but they soon find they are not alone. In a darkish room sits an old woman knitting toys that come to life. She doesn’t eat, but drinks tea and sherry, and knows them all. The landlord makes a rare visit and is clearly not human. And then there’s Matt and Luke, a couple they met on the road, a couple who’d saved them all in one way or another and in whom all four clearly have a strong respect. But they are not at the house, or are they?


Is The House at the End of the World any good?

Oddly, the opening pages are a bit of a struggle. I say “oddly” because Madeleine Marsh’s style quickly settles down to provide a very readable novel. One problem though is the lack of clarity on whom the book is about. Is it the four people who initially find the house and take up the first third of the book? Or is it Luke and Matt, who are introduced later? Does it matter? Maybe, in that there is no real certainty on what is the central story here. Marsh also sometimes falls into a common trap with new authors, that of chatty dialogue that fails to advance the plot. There is a little too much of it, combined with bits of repetition that suggest some pruning might have helped at the editing stage.

That said, the story is entertaining and has some well written male-on-male eroticism to provide distraction. The whole mystery of the house is revealed in tantalising small chunks to keep the reader hooked. And the back stories of the characters are believable and engaging and are used intelligently to explain to the reader how they ended up where they are. No info dump here, just a careful revealing of events.


About Madeleine Marsh

Born in Wales, Madeleine Marsh started writing when she was five years old and won a Young Fiction prize for a story about an alligator when she was eight. She had a short story published in The Pillow Book in the 1990s. Most of her other work is fan fiction, much of it online.



The House at the End of the World (ISBN 978-1482569070, 167 pages) published in 2013.

The House at the End of the World

First came the dead, then the un-dead, and the battle between Good and Evil. Joe, Gabe, Emilie and Rick have seen it all; the flesh and blood, the survivors, the resistance. The...

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Updated: 04/04/2013, SteveRogerson
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