reviews

The House Swap: Rebecca Fleet (DNF)

The House Swap: Rebecca Fleet
Genre: Suspense Fiction
Published: 2018
Pages: 294
Hogwarts House Recommendation: Hufflepuff

When Caroline gets the opportunity to swap houses with someone in the suburbs, she jumps at the chance. This will be a perfect opportunity to repair her relationship with Frances, her husband.
But then little clues start to appear that only mean things to Caroline and the relationship she kept hidden while her own was falling apart. And what’s happening with the overly nosy neighbor that seems to harbor too much interest in Caroline? Maybe the things she wants to leave behind aren’t as far away as she thinks. Because it almost seems like the house is watching them.

I was expecting to like The House Swap a lot more than I did. It had plenty of signs that this would be a good suspenseful book . Sadly, the novel fails to be engaging in any way and I just couldn’t get through it. It’s a bad sign when it takes an hour to read twenty pages; when I keep drifting to Instagram; anything to give my brain a break from the boredom. It’s also a bad sign when I’m already on my third DNF of the year, which is something I rarely do at all.

This seems to be Fleet’s first effort, and it seems pretty clear that it is. The premise is pretty bare-bones; a woman had an affair that comes back to haunt her. The problem here is that absolutely nothing new is brought to the table. I’m literally watching two bland characters as they deal with an affair, and too much time is spent on flashbacks of said affair, which is just watching two people make out pretty much. Yay, more sex scenes that lead nowhere! What was the point for including these specific scenes? Were we supposed to enjoy her cheating/ And chapters in the present pretty much follow the same formula: They decide to try a bonding outing. It’s going well. Caroline has a breakdown. There are awkward conversations. It gets awkward and Francis storms out. Awkward evening. They try again tomorrow. It’s super repetitive, and nothing particularly exciting happens in any of them. Maybe it’s a character study? But I’m struggling to call it that, too, because we don’t get to know very much about these people. And you still need to have something happen somewhere. This book is 95% watching people verbally “work out issues.”

Now let’s talk about the twists. They are not twists. They are very easy to guess. Maybe if they weren’t supposed to be twists, I could have written it off. Now sometimes it’s fun to guess the twist. But in this case, it’s not satisfying at all because I find that most readers will predict everything immediately. On the other hand, the twist that I couldn’t predict (I did skim the other pages) comes so far out of left field that it’s hard to be believed. Perhaps Fleet realized her book was supposed to be exciting and decided to throw something scary in there. It didn’t work for me. It was too random. It doesn’t help that the few characters that there are don’t leave a lot of room for any real surprise. And really, characters tried too hard to keep secrets. Why couldn’t Caroline have just told her husband about the things appearing in the house? I mean, even if they don’t “mean” anything, it’s still an intruder, right?

What I did like was the addition of Amber, a socially awkward character who shows too much interest in Caroline. Again, though, her story arc is super predictable, all but laid out in front of us. I could tell where it was going as soon as she arrived. Another interesting aspect of the novel is that it tries to address topics like broken marriage and drug addiction , but this doesn’t entirely work either. It’s very, very preachy in what it’s trying to talk about in the serious moments. There’s a scene between Amber and Caroline that reads just like a therapy session, dialogue and all, where Fleet is hitting us over the head with a hammer on how marriage can be hard work. And that’s not the only scene. Sometimes it was more like reading a pamphlet than a fiction novel; I was reminded of the time when I rented a Christmas movie only to be tricked into watching a 90-minute commercial for St. Jude’s. Only instead of cancer care, this book serves as an advocate to people who are dealing with addiction, with deep thoughts and ideas of how to best deal with it. It’s an interesting topic when done right, but this book merely beats me over the head with perky morals like “Drugs are bad!” and “Marriage is something you have to work at!” I’m not married nor know an addict, so these parts just didn’t click for me at all.

Is it possible that some people could get things from this novel? Possibly. If you are struggling with addiction in your marriage, parts of The House Swap could ring true for you. If you’re just starting to dip your toes into the genre, this could work as well. And you’ll still have to prepared for long stretches where nothing happens, a very predictable plot, and nothing else that’s truly interesting or more than a fix-our-marriage story. People who are experienced with the genre will be bored with this one quickly.

SONG OF THE NOVEL: Dirty Little Secret

1 star

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