When I was trying to come up with Halloween posts for this year, reviewing the House of Furies trilogy by Madeleine Roux was the first thing that I thought of. I read the finale of the trilogy last year for Halloween, and it’s just truly one of my favorite series, horror or otherwise. I really wanted to reread them before reviewing, but alas, rereading books is easier said than done these days, and I just didn’t have the time to reread. Thankfully, I remember them with crystal clear clarity because they’re just that good, so let’s get on with the convincing you to read these as soon as possible!
Also, there are not going to be huge spoilers in this review, but I will talk about some of the plot in the later books, so if you want to go into this completely blind, you’ve been warned!
Gosh, where do I even start? With the covers, obviously. I mean, look at those. I kept feeling drawn to House of Furies purely based on the cover because it just looked spooky as all hell, and I couldn’t get the image of this girl in all white with hands grabbing her from all around out of my mind. Pair that with the possibility of a scary manor in the middle of the British countryside, and well. I don’t know what it is, but it happened again recently, I saw something similar to Coldthistle House in a summary last month, and I was like YES THANKS. I bought Mexican Gothic almost entirely because it sounds like the house is haunted or something of that vein. I just love spooky houses? Paranormal Activity gets me so bad because it’s in a house, and look, I definitely blame every single weird noise on my cats, which means I’ll have to have cats forever because apparently houses scare the bejeezus out of me.
And whew, Coldthistle House is CREEPY. It was one of the first things I fell in love with–the first being Louisa, the MC, because who doesn’t love a done and over with all your bullshit character–and it continued to be something that held my attention throughout the trilogy. When they ended up leaving Coldthistle House for the second book, I was so sad because I just loved how it was threaded through everyone’s lives while there. And it’s not even just that the house is haunted, but that it feels very alive and capable of malice all on its own. It wasn’t alive, but I felt like it might reach out and swallow me whole at any moment. The different creatures that called it their home, and the very many murders that happened within its walls just added to that feeling until, when Louisa eventually realized she had to go back, I was both so excited and just horrified.
And let’s talk about Louisa because damn! She was such a different main character than I’m used to, and I loved her so much because of that! She was often just as scared as I was, which I feel like you never see, and it was so refreshing? She was appropriately terrified of Coldthistle, and even though she gave Morningside as good as she got from him, she was still very obviously afraid of him. AND AS SHE SHOULD BE, hell, he was–okay, we’ll get to Morningside in a second because he deserves his own paragraph. Louisa grew so much across the trilogy, too, until, at the end, I believed, without a shadow of a doubt, that she could take on every single awful thing that came up against her, and while she still might suffer at the hands of those awful things, she would figure out how to come out on top and keep her found family intact. She was so human, and so relatable, and I’m literally convincing myself to drop all my books and go reread these just to read about her again.
For the rest of my natural born life, and perhaps even into my immortal existence after and whatever lives I live in reincarnation, I am never going to forget Morningside’s backward feet. Just nope. No thank. I’m all set. The second he walked out from behind his desk with his feet twisted around backward, I legitimately threw my book clean across my room and went to bed. Just a big old heaping of NOPE GOODNIGHT from me, and then I had to read the next few chapters during the day time because WOW, that was a lot. And I don’t know what it was about those backward feet, but even now as I’m thinking about them, I just want to run in the other direction. There were so many scary aspects about Morningside that anything else could have easily done this for me, but all I had to see was the backward feet, and I was like, “You know what? That’s a damn good villain.”
Okay, spoilers here about Mr. Morningside, so if you’d like to keep his identity a secret, skip ahead to the next bolded bit!
Considering the fact that I just posted an entire dissertation about why the devil is one of my favorite characters in literature, it should come as absolutely no surprise that I also loved Morningside SO MUCH. Generally, I’m pretty sick of the devil showing up in horror because he’s always the bad guy, and it’s always the same, but Roux managed to give him some unexpected twists that made me really enjoy her interpretation of the devil. He was also very clearly not Lucifer, which was an interesting way to do it, and I liked watching the layers peel back on him to unveil some of his vulnerable and–well, not sweet, but I can’t think of another word but sweet bits. He was still very much the devil, and, at the end of the day, he was always going to think of himself first, but there were also moments that I wanted to weep with joy over him.
We’re done with spoilers about Morningside’s identity, but it’s reminded me about how much I loved the epilogue of the third book, so more warnings here!
I won’t actually break down in detail what happens in the epilogue, but I would just like to say a very loud thank you to Madeleine Roux for that completely unexpected and wholly wonderful epilogue. I truly can’t remember the last time that I felt so seen and fulfilled at the end of a trilogy? Like, did she need to bring the devil back, but give him a sliver of heart left so that he sought out Louisa to make amends? Did she need to give Louisa a happy ending and show it? Did she need to completely stomp on our hearts? No, but she did, and wow, I’m never going to get over that ending. This trilogy was already outstanding on its own, but combine it with that ending, and it’ll stand out as one of my all-time favorites forever.
No more spoilers, you’re safe!
We’ve got to talk about the fact that this isn’t entirely a horror story, either. House of Furies is, hands down, a horror book, and if you’re looking for something extra spooky this Halloween, that’s definitely where to start, and while Court of Shadows & Tomb of Ancients are also definitely horror, they’ve got a lot of additional elements that pretty much made me want to curl up and weep over how amazing this trilogy was.
Because did I for one second think that there were going to be faeries and an entire alternate supernatural universe in this “ooh spooky house kills people” story? NO BUT THEY BELONG THERE. Seriously, faeries belong in every horror book because they’re the most terrifying creature out there. Don’t believe me? I wrote a post that has the dumbest title ever, Let’s Talk About the Truth Behind Faeries, but it breaks down all the ways they’re actually the worst (and the best, don’t worry, they’re just masochistic and will murder you after a very long torture sesh), and the fact that Roux went and put them into her horror novel with a spooky house and a backward-footed villain?? YES THANK YOU.
The supernatural elements of this trilogy were truly what took it above and beyond. It would have been amazing as is, but to add those elements and to tie them so intrinsically into the story, to the point where I felt like I was reading fantasy by the third one, but really, really horrific fantasy, and in ways that made sense and felt impossible to deny–it was just so well done. And it was done while also keeping the very human elements, which made it even more powerful. Louisa is still afraid of literally everything, but she’s also ready to go toe-to-toe with eldritch faery horrors to save her family, and that’s just some beautiful poetry right there.
And oh, the found family! Louisa has no family, and to watch her slowly piece together her own is just the loveliest thing in the world. Her found family is strange and a little bit terrifying, but she loves them desperately, and she’ll do anything to keep them close and safe. The characters in this are just really phenomenal, and I wept over each of them equally, and UGH I WANNA REREAD THIS.
There is so much wrapped up into these books. They’re scary, they’re fantastical, and they’re full of heart. Literally and metaphorically! I’ll admit, I went into them just expecting a fun, quick read that I’d probably rate four stars and move on with my day, but it’s been well over a year since I first read House of Furies, I saved Tomb of Ancients for Halloween last year even though I thought about it for the entire summer, and I’m still thinking about them with startling regularity. I don’t even think about the just around spooky season–I’ve probably been thinking about them on a consistent basis since I finished the trilogy last October. You know when you’re trying to describe something, and all you can manage is just it’s SO GOOD because no other words are doing it justice? I’ve spent an entire post rambling about how much I love these books, and I’m still just here like THEY’RE JUST SO GOOD because I am speechless? I never expected to love these as much as I do, and even now, looking back, I keep having this moment of wow, we were really gifted this incredible story.
It really is just so good. It’s spooky, and I kept reading it at night like an absolute moron even though it made sleeping impossible, it’s full of so much more magic and intricate plot work than you’re even thinking right now, and it’s got such a stellar cast that is going to capture your heart and, apparently, never let go.