***Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a free, honest review. All options are my own. ***
“That Wall she’d built to protect herself—it had grown so high she couldn’t be sure she had seen anything.” – Michelle Barker, The House of One Thousand Eyes
The House of One Thousand Eyes Review
The House of One Thousand Eyes sheds shadowy and mysterious light on what life was like behind the Iron Curtain. Lena Altmann is a young woman who has experienced life in the fullest degree. Unfortunately, it has been full of sorrow, after losing her parents in an accident and then being sent to live with a stringent aunt, Lena finds very little happiness in the real world. Instead, she invents a world of her own where she can go and escape her life and her job as a janitor in House 1, one of the buildings where the Secret Police Operate.
Her only other solace is her uncle Erich who is a writer and allows her to safely explore the privilege of western life. Whether it be magazines or just allowing Lena to be herself, the visits on Sundays she has with her Uncle Erich are “the first day of summer vacation after a long, hard year of straight lines and wrong answers.” But when Stasi men begin taking away her Uncle’s things and everyone begins to deny he ever existed Lena realizes something terrible has happened and she feels compelled to warn him or help in any way she can.
The House of One Thousand Eyes is a compelling story and is written fabulously. Lena’s mind is rife with the complexities of actual humanity which is rare to see. Her world is filled with characters that all have their foibles and their strengths. Sausage Auntie is stern and wants Lena to fit in more then anything, even going so far as threaten admitting her to mental hospital if she acts any different than what the state wants. Uncle Erich has the free spirit of the West while he is stuck in a drab, grey landscape. Even Jutta, Lena’s co-worker feels displaced. Yet in Lean’s world they each have their place. Lena’s world is filled with characters that belong there but at the same time realize that they should be somewhere else. The novel is a brilliant tapestry of narrative and characterization. I really enjoyed the novel. I would definitely read it again and recommend it to my friends.
I give House of 1000 Eyes a 4 out of 5.