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The Wish House





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About the book:

Rees is undoubtedly a popular and prolific writer for young people, but ever since the immense success of her historical sagas like Witch Child and Pirates!, she has not written many of the disturbing thrillers or other kinds of psychologically taught fiction for young adults like she used too. The Wish House is just such a novel, being moody and very dark, with emotions aplenty simmering under the surface of each page.

Richard, Rees main character and in his twenties when the book begins, recalls a tumultuous, pivotal summer in his life. In 1976, while on holiday in South Wales, he was a naive 15-year-old temporarily in the thrall of a family of free-living, free-loving, drug-imbibing bohemians who have renovated and moved into one of his old childhood haunts, the Wish House. He is shocked by their nudity, openness and artistic lifestyle but is lured into their world by kindness, sexual awakening and fascination.

The object of his affections, Clio, is like no girl he has ever met before. She is fresh-faced, gorgeous, supremely confident and easy to talk to. They soon become intimate and Richard loses himself to her completely. For days on end, in the hot summer sun, while Richard poses for Clios father, Jay, a famous artist, her mother and brother swirl around them, greeting friends, eating, drinking, swimming, partying on the beach--living a decadent life with no inhibitions. But Richard soon discovers there are secrets in this house, and that surface appearances can hide complicated and twisted relationships that will finally explode into tragedy. Rees book is about how people can manipulate others, and how innocents can be so easily snared by something different and seemingly glamorous. Instead of focusing on plot, the author dissects her cast of characters and exposes their many foibles to great effect. (Age 14 and over) --John McLay

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