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James Stoddard's The High House: A Review


I do not yet know what book has been kicked out of my Top Five list, but one has in order to make room for James Stoddard's The High House (Aspect Fantasy: 1998).

Imagine if you will, a huge mansion that within its walls and halls and rooms holds worlds upon worlds, mysteries upon mysteries, with no end in sight. Imagine a Master of the House with three main responsibilities: maintain order within the House's myriad realms; protect all of this creation against the Anarchists, a group of people dedicated to overthrowing the house; and maintain a balance between Old Man Chaos and Lady Order, two archetypes that dwell within the house and in their absoluteness are creatures of surprising horror. Also, imagine a house where the Last Dinosaur, untamed and hungry, lives in the attic and the basement is filled with man-eating creatures that disguise themselves as furniture.

And there is still much, much more.

The High House is not a Christian allegory. It is a novel set about a fantasy world immersed in the reality of the Christian worldview with the basis for its paradigms solidly Christian:
" ... like all of Creation, the High House is a Parable. As for who built it, some say God is the Great Architect; some say the Grand Engineer." Brittle gave his wry smile. "And some say He once was a carpenter as well. I can explain no better."

Yet, the message of the book is not beaten into you with a crowbar, but explained gently within the relationships of those who have been given the responsibility of caring for the High House. Along the trip we learn that Christianity is not a caricature to be endured, but an adventure to be lived with all of its passions and wonders and, yes, even danger.

I have always been an avid fan of supernatural houses and The High House now forms part of my mental neighborhood sharing property lines with Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland, Richard Forsythe's Bishop's Landing, and Charles de Lint's Tamson House (Moonheart).

The High House is a nice place to visit and you just might want to live there.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
eric_hinkle
Jul. 19th, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
I'm just glad that you enjoyed the book. I'll have to hunt down another copy for myself.

BTW, what did you think of the bit involving the Withered Moor (I forget its proper name), where we see what society would be like in the Anarchists took over? In some ways I thought it was scarier than the Maneaters of Naleeuwath or Leviathan in the attic, because of the utter hopelessness of it all.

I hope your boys enjoy the book as well.

Best!
breckinwood
Jul. 19th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC)
I have that book, but haven't read it yet. I think it may be the only book in our house I haven't read. DH bought it at a used book sale for me, but the cover was so battered and dingy looking it didn't spark my interest. Now I'll have to dig it out of the bookshelf. :)
stokerbramwell
Jul. 19th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
This one's jumping farther and farther up in priority on my reading list the more I hear about it.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )