Book Review: Finch House by Ciera Burch
Encanto meets Coraline in this spooky middle grade story that deals with family ties, fear of change, and generational trauma as it follows a girl who must convince an old, haunted house to release its hold on her and her family.
Eleven-year-old Micah has no interest in moving out of her grandfather’s house. She loves living with Poppop and their shared hobby of driving around rich neighborhoods to find treasures in others’ trash. To avoid packing, Micah goes for a bike ride and ends up at Finch House, the decrepit Victorian that Poppop says is Off Limits. Except when she gets there, it’s all fixed up and there’s a boy named Theo in the front yard. Surely that means Finch House isn’t Off Limits anymore? But when Poppop finds her there, Micah is only met with his disappointment.
By the next day, Poppop is nowhere to be found. After searching everywhere, Micah’s instincts lead her back to Finch House. But once Theo invites her inside, Micah realizes she can’t leave. And that, with its strange whispers and deep-dark shadows, Finch House isn’t just a house…it’s alive.
Can Micah find a way to convince the house to let her go? Or will she be forced to stay in Finch House forever?
“We are a house,” Finch House said simply. “We do not control what the people who live here, or visit, do. We only protect them” (pg 155).
I do like when a house is a sentient main character. It’s what made me pick up this book in the first place. And Finch House, while confusing and unsettling, is a great setting and great character. But it’s Micah, our real main character, who drew me in. She’s having all these feelings about moving, about being an hour away from her beloved grandpa. It seems like enough upheaval, but then she meets a new boy, who now lives in the mysterious Finch House, a long abandoned home in her town, a house that her grandpa is adamant she stay away from. And meeting him, being invited into his home, this mysterious Finch House, brings far more upheaval than Micah could possibly imagine. Suddenly, she’s trapped in this house, in some version of this house, with other children. Children? Ghosts? She’s not sure what’s going on, only that the house is a living thing and whatever realm she’s in now is not one that exists on the same plane was her regular life. She has to figure out what’s going on, who her new “friend” Jenn is, and how on earth to get out of Finch House. It’s a journey that reveals secrets, trauma, and deals. And if Micah is going to get back to where she belongs, if she’s going to get back to her grandpa, she’s going to have to figure out how to negotiate with a house.
And while I didn’t necessarily understand the mechanics of the house or what happened to anyone should they ever get to leave Finch House, I decided I didn’t really care about those details. The storytelling was so compelling and Micah’s mix of fear and problem-solving propelled the story along even if I didn’t entirely know what to make of Finch House itself. This haunted house mystery is less scary than it is simply interesting and engaging. A great book to recommend widely—will appeal to those who want something “scary” but won’t overwhelm those who find that prospect a little intimidating.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 09/05/2023
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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