In the very last paragraph of this short novel, another character asks the protagonist, "Have you learned nothing from all this?"
I'm with the protagonist, here. I have learned nothing from all this.
I haven't read a great number of books that can be classified as horror, but I believe this would be one of them. I've always sort of assumed that my low-level interest in horror novels is that they may contain a certain level of violence to which I may be turned off. Reading The Children's Home has actually brought to me the realization that perhaps my general lack of interest may lie more in the feeling I've had when finishing up the horror-laced novels I have read. There is, most often, this general lack of explanation, and of motivation.
I'm perfectly fine with novels that start out in worlds and with characters about whom I am initially confused. That's part of the adventure as a reader, reading on to find out why the world presented has been formed into the creature it is, why it is that the characters live in this world, why they behave the way they do. I'm perfectly happy to be lead down whatever path the characters and the author want to lead me - whether it's fantasy or science fiction or supernatural. I'll take any of these results.... so long as there is an explicable result.
There isn't, here. At least for me. There is a protagonist, Charles, and we do learn of his backstory and why he is a recluse in the shuttered estate. But if there's any clear understanding as to why the current story happens to him, or why it happens at all, it soared way, way above my head.
And perhaps I really am the problem here. Perhaps I am dense, at least to the world of this story. Perhaps I am simply not the audience.
The estate and the protagonist, the initial setting appealed to me, which was why I was tempted to give this novel three stars on goodreads. But ultimately this novel left me feeling like the author created this intriguing world, in which intriguing things happen... but failed to justify or explain anything about the world. Intrigue in books is what draws a reader in... so that the world of the novel and can open up and be explored and concluded. At the end, I just felt more confused and frustrated, hence two stars.
The Children's Home was given to me as an advanced reader's copy from Scribner and will be released in the United States on January 5, 2016.