The more I read, the more the publishing world changes; the more imperative a novel’s opening becomes. No longer are readers prepared to sift through endless pages in the hope of getting hooked half way through a novel. In an era where online articles are both plentiful and free, and kindle users have thousands of books at their fingertips should their first choice not satisfy their literary needs, a strong beginning is crucial.
Thus, for that alone, novelist Alex Hourston should be commended. From the very first page of In My House, this deeply unsettling debut leaves its reader wanting more. We meet fifty-eight year old Maggie at the airport, having returned from one of her annual walking holidays. A single word mouthed to her by nineteen year old Anja – ‘help’ and life as she knows it – until now both lonely and ordered – is turned on its axis.
Hourston’s writing is concise and precise, yet wonderfully descriptive, adding a disturbing element to even the most banal activities; the brushing of hair, the folding of clothes, the embracing of friends. The type of novel you want to read in a single sitting, In My House is an intelligent debut from a writer I have little doubt we’ll hear much more from in the future.