3 out of 4 stars
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At the tender age of fifteen, André Cogliand knew he wanted to become a writer, his father, however, vehemently opposed it and thought he needed real work to earn a decent living. The conflict brought André to the wealthy and influential Francesco Sordi’s doorstep and attention; he took an interest in his drive to write, promising to support his dream as long as he writes his first book exclusively to his daughter Emelia Sordi. The deal works perfectly, and Emelia adores the story André writes for her. In the process, André falls madly in love with her unique beauty and elegance and tries to act on his feelings. This angers Francesco, and he banishes him from his daughter and their lives.
It is now close to twenty years later, and forty-two-year-old André is a washed-up writer who is slowly giving in to depression, loneliness, and a rapidly failing health. As he desperately tries to come up with one last tantalizing story that will immortalize his name, a mysterious invitation to an exclusive art gallery arrives and directs him to a specific exhibit. The mysterious sender promises a profound story behind it, with a connection to his past. Being ever curious, he immediately embarks on his new mission and quickly begins uncovering some uncomfortable truths. He soon finds himself on a path of mysterious deaths, outright murders, unfathomable acts of cruelty, conspiracies, and knee-deep in the activities of the Masonry. Additionally, the journey leads him straight to his demons and forces him to confront his past, the truth about his father’s death, and the re-ignition of a past love.
The House of Seagulls is a book filled with hair-raising tension and suspense, with the introduction instantly hooking the reader. Maria Karagianni vividly describes the scenes and settings, immersing the reader in Italian life, streets, and attractions. The unique physical and personality traits of each character are distinct and, the descriptions of the artistic world produce vivid impressions in the mind as one reads along. There are also light and fun moments, through hilarious characters like Emilio, an enthusiastic and eager tour guide. The book also evokes intense emotions as it gives a glimpse into Rome and Europe’s brutal history in the late sixties, the seventies, and the eighties, making the book very captivating.
My favorite aspect of the read is how the author weaves various stories within the primary storyline. Each character is profound and independent, and their past, fears, sufferings, and hopes narrated as we journey along André’s investigation path. This creates a deep connection with each character as the reader appreciates the reasons behind their nature. Additionally, I equally love how the reader gets to experience the journey with the characters, and only know what they know and stumble upon startling revelations as they do. This makes the book more engaging and, the reader glued to the pages.
It is, however, unfortunate that the book’s editing is subpar; it is the only thing I dislike about the novel. The grammatical and typographical errors are throughout the book, and the chapters equally lack a flow and a systematic arrangement, as some start or end abruptly. The language employed is intelligible with metaphorical and poetic comparisons and minor incidences of profanities. The intimate scenes are in tastefully and pleasing descriptions that only add to the book’s positives. I, nevertheless, would recommend it to more mature audiences due to the sensitivity of some scenes. I strongly recommend another round of meticulous editing and grudgingly give the book a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to anyone looking for a thrilling and thought-provoking read full of tension, pain, greed, determination, and the ultimate search for love, peace, and justice.
The House of Seagulls
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