Rosaura Douglas’s father shot himself when her mother left him…or at least that’s the story everyone is telling. Now her mother has remarried and Rosie is trapped in a new home she calls “The Cake House,” a garish pink edifice that’s a far cry from the cramped apartment where she grew up. It’s also the house where her father died — a fact that everyone else who lives there, including her mother, Dahlia, and her mysteriously wealthy stepfather, Claude, want to forget.
Soon, however, her father’s ghost begins to appear; first as a momentary reflection in a window, then in the dark of night, and finally, in the lush garden behind the house where Rosie spends most of her days. After he warns her that Claude is not to be trusted, Rosie begins to notice cracks in her new family’s carefully constructed facade. Dahlia is clearly uncomfortable in her marriage; her stepbrother, Alex, is friendly one second, distant the next, and haunted by troubles of his own; and Claude’s business is drawing questions from the police. And as the ghost becomes increasingly violent – and the secrets of The Cake House and her family’s past come to light – Rosie must finally face the truth behind the losses and lies that have torn her life apart.
First Sentence: I met Claude and Alex the day my father died.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
I’ve never heard or seen The Cake House until I received it in the mail. I knew absolutely nothing about it until it was in my hands and decided to give it a chance since The Cake House was a modern-day retelling of Hamlet. I can’t resist reading retellings of any kind (who can?), especially if I’ve already got a copy. In the end, after giving The Cake House a try, I’m just meh about the book. It would be an awesome book with a couple of changes.
As I said above, The Cake House is a modern-day retelling of Hamlet. It’s a pretty good retelling of Hamlet: the main character loses her father in a mysterious death, her mom marries the most obvious and suspicious suspect, and there’s her dead father’s ghost haunting her. As the story goes on, however, The Cake House slowly detaches itself from Hamlet and becomes something different, something that can stand up on its own.
“Promise me.” She grabbed my shoulders, shook me hard. “Say it. You don’t know what happened. You didn’t see.” (5)
At first, I thought The Cake House was an Adult book. When I looked it up on Goodreads, its imprint, Vintage, sounds like it might be an Adult book line. However, when I started The Cake House, I was shocked to discover that the main character, Rosie, was only thirteen years old. Before I learned about Rosie’s age, I thought she would be at least eighteen because she has such a mature voice. Never in a million years did I think she would actually be thirteen. I had to constantly flip back to the part where it revealed that Rosie was thirteen because I just couldn’t believe that she was actually thirteen. During the course of the book, she turns fourteen, but her voice was still too old for her actual age.
In the beginning, I was really enjoying The Cake House. The first fifty pages or so dragged me in and kept me captivated. However, as I read on, I slowly grew bored. Once the romance picked up (I’ll be talking more about the romance in the next paragraph), the pacing became really bad. I could care less about what happened with Rosie as she pinned after her love interest. I could care less about her jealousy of other girls and how she was hanging out with different people. I wanted the focus back on her family situation, not the love interest or anything related to the love interest. I could easily cut The Cake House into half its current size.
“That’s convenient, isn’t it?” Deputy Mike’s voice was as calm and gentle as ever.
“She could have broken her neck. Problem solved.” (91)
Like I said above, the romance plays a huge part of The Cake House. The Cake House features an unhealthy romance where Rosie falls deeply in lust (“love” to her) at first sight. For her, it was a quiet sort of obsession that slowly grew as time went on. I didn’t feel or cheer for the romance at all. I understand that yes, it can happen, especially to people in Rosie’s situation, but that doesn’t mean that I like it. And don’t get me started on how the romance ended. It was just ugh.
Overall, The Cake House had a really promising and exciting start, only to lose its potential as time went on. The Cake House is a sadly book where the unnecessary romance bought it crashing down.