House Immortal (House Immortal, Book 1)
Penguin Roc (US & CA: 2nd September 2014)
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With a section on her website dedicated to her knitting, it was inevitable that Devon Monk would write a series where craftwork is integral.
In 1910, an experiment killed most people in the region. Thirteen people survived – they are “galvanized”, seemingly immortal. They fell into comas, awakening later.
Matilda Case has been stitched together with “life thread”, and her grandmother is mostly seen knitting a lengthy scarf from “pocket sheep’s” wool with nano-whatever in it. Yes, this is confusing, but the scarf turns out to be very useful later on.
I came into this novel expecting a futuristic Frankenstein kind of tale, so the urban fantasy-esque creatures in the first chapter are surprising. With “immortal” in the title, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the novel discusses how to stop time, but I’m more interested in the surgical/medical aspects of the story.
The novel’s large cast gets confusing, with all the different House heads and their galvanized, and lengthy descriptions of what everyone looks like and what they’re wearing, but I still couldn’t keep track of everyone. Also, it’s never explained how stitches get coloured, because the life thread itself seems to be silvery.
I don’t fully understand what’s going on, but I’m firmly entrenched and along for the ride. Mix Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with Amy Ewing’s The Jewel, and you get Devon Monk’s House Immortal: an intriguing blend of science, technology, politics, and who knows what else is in store.