Review: 'The Children's Home' by Charles Lambert

childrenshomeThe Children’s Home by Charles Lambert
Scribner (January 5, 2016)
224 pages; $24 hardcover/$11.99 e-book
Reviewed by Jonathan Reitan

Writer Charles Lambert’s name may not be immediately recognizable by horror aficionados, but in early 2016 the genre will get his first sampling, and it’s a name you won’t soon forget.

Lambert’s previous releases have included a memoir, an award-winning short story collection and psychological thriller novels. In the British author’s latest, The Children’s Home, Lambert offers us a delightful work of parts dark fairy tale and literary horror.

A childhood accident has left Morgan Fletcher’s face disfigured resulting in his becoming a recluse, never to leave his massive family estate and Gothic mansion. Morgan isn’t left alone for long as one day, out of the blue, two children mysteriously show up and take residence in the sprawling mansion. As young David and Moria get comfortable, more children from the nearby town start arriving. Toddlers walk in from behind the bushes while babies are left on the doorstep.

A housekeeper, Engel, and a local physician, Dr. Crane, also take up residence among Morgan’s new horde of children, offering him assistance while tackling the many mysteries of their whereabouts and of the house itself. Where did they come from? What are they finding hidden in the attic and library? What mysteries of Morgan’s past are they exposing?

Lambert paints a war-torn post apocalyptic landscape when Morgan finally ventures out of his estate once a child has been taken from them. Are the children parentless because of the war? Little answers stir the imagination.

The Children’s Home wonderfully plays with your mind. Are the children real or are they ghosts? As they hauntingly come and go, their arrival forces Morgan to uncover truths he’s hidden for decades.

The Children’s Home is a haunting Gothic in the vein of Shirley Jackson, steeped with the mystery and imagination of Neil Gaiman’s fairy tales. Lambert’s prose is beautiful and his tale is mesmerizing.

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