A Tuesday Ten: Speculative Residences
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
The place that our characters reside can often be a huge part of the story. Here I’ve tried to pull together a list of a few of my favorites, from haunted to magical, to just amazing!
The House With the Clock In It’s Walls by John Bellairs, illustrated by Edward Gorey (Puffin, c1973)
It was my Flashback Friday post on this book that prompted this list in the first place, so I figured it was only fair to kick off with the dusty old mansion. By turns sinister and mysterious, this old house was once owned by evil magicians, and now there’s a doomsday clock ticking somewhere behind the walls . . . and it can be heard all over the house! Great gothic spookiness with just the right touch of chill.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Greenwillow, c1986)
The delightful roving castle of the egotistical (and cranky) wizard Howl, with its resident fire demon Calcifer and magical portal doorway that opens in oh, so many different places. Howl uses it not only to access different cities, but to cross entire worlds. This signature castle gets revisited in the later sequel Castle in the Air, where the entire structure is altered to the needs of a wicked djinn who is stealing princesses.
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion, 2014)
This curious house turned Inn with its long history of housing smugglers holds is the setting for a Westing Game style story when a group of mysterious lodgers show up and get snowed in. Secrets, stories and riddles abound! And more than one person is not who they claim to be . . .
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury, c2011)
The first in a series of books about Castle Glower and the royal family who live in this magical castle that –on Tuesdays–changes around entire sections of the building, or introducing new rooms for the residents to discover seemingly at random. Only young Celie has taken the time and interest in trying to map out the castle . . . and her skills are about to be put to the test! A charming magical series that’s not too dark or dangerous but lots of fun.
Beauty by Robin McKinley (HarperCollins, 1978)
If you were like me with fairy tales, then it’s possible you too dreamed of what it might be like to live in the Beast’s palace from Beauty and the Beast. Here I’ve selected McKinley’s retelling of the tale where our young Beauty encounters a wonderous residence full of invisible spirits that constantly whisk things around and care for the place. While not the talking household objects of the Disney version, I quite liked the invisible servants and magic of this version where every so often Beauty would not be willing to go along with things those servants had in mind.
Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space by Philip Reeve, illustrated by David Wyatt (Bloomsbury, 2006)
Larklight is huge and rambling house that is traveling through space in orbit. This wildly eclectic steampunk adventure contains many delightful oddities and adventures, but the house itself is the immediate thing that charmed me into reading this tale. While I’ve seen space westerns, and space pirates, I had not until this book seen space mansions!
Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke (First Second, 2014)
I couldn’t resist adding this particular book to the list. Ben Hatke of Zita the Spacegirl fame has created his first picture book about a girl named Julia walking house (much like the home of Baba Yaga) who come to settle by the seashore. Julia decides she’s lonely and decides to invite in lost creatures to her home. Her plan to have company goes a little awry when a whole bevy of mythical creatures show up, and cause chaos in her home . . .
The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore (Walker Children, 2013)
An ancestral mansion full of old history and secrets. A family history of odd scientific pursuits and a fascination with exploration. Our young protagonists wind up exploring the house, finding secret passageways and rooms, dusty research notes, ancient tunnels, and clues that might just lead to the fountain of youth itself!
Truckers by Terry Pratchett (Corgi Books, c1989)
This first book in The Bromeliad Trilogy introduces readers to the nomes. Nomes are tiny humanoid like creatures who live at a much faster pace than humans do. In this story, generations of nomes have lived inside a department store (Arnold Bros.), making it their home, and indeed their whole world. I love the idea of being so small that a department store could seem like a world unto itself to me. Of course the nomes’ whole world is coming to an end when they discover that the store is closing and will be demolished!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (Scholastic, c1997)
Could I leave this list without bring up Hogwarts? Of course it’s a school, but it’s a boarding school, home to hundreds of young magic users over the years. Full of secret passages, mystical rooms, ghosts, sentient portraits, moving staircases and incredible magic. While Harry and his adventures are the focal point of the series, most readers have a great fondness, if not love, for the Hogwarts school.
So there’s my ten. What other residences can you think of? Comments welcome!
About Stephanie WhelanI'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.
Posted on November 4, 2014, in General Posts, Lists and tagged Authors, Books, Children's Books, Children's Literature, fantasy, Lists, literature, Middle-Grade Fiction, Picture Books, Reading, Science Fiction, Steampunk. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.