The Children’s Home, by Charles Lambert

The Children's Home
The Children’s Home

There are many ways to react to finding a child on one’s doorstep. The most logical way to react is to call the authorities and have them search for the child. Morgan Fletcher, in spite of his disfigurement and desire for solitude, takes another option: he takes in the child he finds. Then he opens his home to the half a dozen other children that mysteriously appear on the grounds. We never learn where the children come from, but it eventually becomes clear that they have arrived for a purpose. I’m still not sure what Charles Lambert’s The Children’s Home is really about, to be honest. This metaphor of a story could be interpreted in so many ways.

Morgan has lived alone but for his housekeeper ever since his disturbed mother threw acid in his face. In one sense, The Children’s Home is a story of a man healing himself enough to interact with the world again. In another sense, this book is also about a man who finds himself in the middle of quest that he must complete. There are many hints that not all is right in Morgan’s world. Characters mention rationing. Mysterious men from unnamed ministries appear and demand Morgan’s adopted brood. Things get even weirder once Morgan learns what he has to do to help his newfound family.

It’s the weirdness that makes this book hard to pin down. It’s clear that something supernatural is happening and I was tempted, as I read, to consider The Children’s Home a sort of horror-inflected magic realist work. The supernatural is questioned by Morgan and his friend, Doctor Crane, but becomes more accepted over time. Because this book feels like magic realism, it’s impossible not to wonder what we as readers are supposed to glean from reading it. Is it a metaphor for religion? Is it a reference to an incident that occurred during the Holocaust? Is Morgan dreaming or actually in a coma? I can see readers arguing about this book for ages. If nothing else, it’s a deeply unsettling read.

I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. It will be released 5 January 2016.

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