100-Character Breakdown: Strange, haunting, and original. It has well-crafted, profound prose, but the end feels incomplete.
Genre: Literary fiction, suspense
Publisher: Scribner (January 2016)
In a thoroughly haunting and original novel, Charles Lambert leaves the reader thinking and probing at the symbolic weight of the text. The Children’s Home begins with Morgan Fletcher living his lonesome life in his family’s estate. He has a troubled past, leaving his face and hand disfigured. Housekeepers maintain the manor, yet Morgan knows none of them but Engel. Things begin to change when Morgan finds an infant at the doorstep. She is only the first of many children to arrive at the house. Initially Morgan and Engel find comfort in taking care of them, barely questioning their origin. But soon the behavior of the children grows stranger. Engel doesn’t seem concerned about this oddity, but Morgan and the doctor he befriends begin to search for answers. There are secrets abound in the estate, and Morgan and Doctor Crane aren’t the only ones trying to unearth them.
Their search is accompanied by vivid description of peculiar and sometimes horrifying objects and events. Morgan’s discoveries are all unexpected and unbelievable, yet his character feels real nonetheless. Rather than being over the top in this strangeness, Lambert’s prose is subtle, profound, and well-crafted. This book is nothing if not original. Yet the deeper Morgan goes into this search, the more complex the plot becomes. Lambert fumbles a bit in the execution of the final reveals. The conclusion comes close to satisfying the reader, and yet something still feels missing. Maybe The Children’s Home is one book that was never meant to give all the answers, but the reader will certainly enjoy clawing at the details in search of resolution just as Morgan does.