Title: House of Sherbet
Author: Simon Dale
Up until recently, I never really reviewed, or even read, books that are geared towards pre-teen to teenage boys. But now that Jake is only a few years away from the age where I started disappearing into a fantasy world of books, I’ve started paying more attention to them. I want to be able to give him some good recommendations when he gets a little older. We already have a few of the more obvious books on our lists, but I want him to know that there are more authors and books out there than what’s on the best seller list or front and center on the shelves. When I was contacted to review The House of Sherbet by Simon Dale, I hesitated briefly, trying to decide if it would be a good fit for me and the blog. But the cover really intrigued me with its crooked house set against a background of some of my favorite colors. The synopsis had me curious too, so I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did, because The House of Sherbet turned out to be such a unique and strange story.
The House of Sherbet follows 13-year-old Jake as he arrives at his grandfather’s home, the Oakhouse, where he and his parents will spend Christmas. Grandad Sherbet is creepy right off the bat. Seriously, the guy freaked me out. Grandfathers are supposed to be fun, loving and cuddly, but this guy was just strange, demented, and a little mean. I would have preferred if the main part of the adventure came a little faster, as the story got off to a slow start while Dale set up the atmosphere. Let me tell you though, that atmosphere is done perfectly, giving off an underlying feeling of oppression starting from the first page. It’s reminiscent of the old Gothic novels, like Fall of the House of Usher or Turn of the Screw. Just an overall eerie feeling, like you know nothing good can happen when the weather is nasty and the main character is snowed in at a house that looks like it belongs in an old horror movie.
Things start to good downhill for Jake after about a day at creepy Grandad Sherbet’s house. His cell phone gets crushed, cutting him off from his beloved friend (and possibly first love), Elly. His parents vanish, only to come back in the form of miniature wooden figurines, and Grandad’s version of a Good Old Boy’s Club involves attempting to harness Jake’s youth for their own spin on the Fountain of Youth. Evil people scare me. Evil elderly people completely freak me out almost as much as clowns do for some reason. Maybe it’s because I had such awesome grandparents, and basically associate the elderly with that grandparently affection. They’re not supposed to be evil. But Granddad Sherbet brings evil to a whole new level, and he’s not even the worst of his little group of octogenarian bad-boys!
Once the adventure gets going, it doesn’t stop until the end. I wont give away anything major, but Jake finds assistance in some of the most unlikely people, including a man made of wood, during his battle to survive and outwit his grandfather. The story isn’t exactly scary in the sense that it will cause nightmares. It’s not so much a horror story as an eerie adventure, and sort of a coming-of-age story, as Jake discovers strange things about himself that don’t always have to do with any powers he may possess. I would recommend The House of Sherbet to boys around age nine and up.