House Immortal by Devon Monk (Roc, Sept. 2014)-Like I’ve lamented lately, I’ve begun to get picky when it comes to new series, but I’m glad I gave Devon Monk’s House Immortal a chance. Most of the book is told in Matilda (Tilly) Case’s voice and takes place about 200 years from now after the world has been reorganized into Houses (each have a color) that control tech, resources (human and natural), etc. The Houses resulted during a Restructure in the 2100s (after serious economic collapse) and everyone got claimed by a House. Tilly is a “stitch” which is a derogatory term for a girl like her-that is, a girl that’s been stitched together with very special thread, from various parts, by her brilliant brother Quinten. Tilly is happy to work her family’s farm, taking care of her grandmother and the various stitched creatures that her father created, and working alongside her very different farmhand Neds . She’s tried to stay under the radar of the Houses (while secretly working for House Brown, a democratic 12th house which has almost no power), afraid that if they discover the secret of who she is, they’ll take her farm, and her livelihood. Her peace is disturbed when Abraham Seventh shows up at her door, grievously injured. Abraham is one of the Galvanized, which is a group of 12 immortals created centuries ago, by a device called the Wings of Mercury. Stitched like Tilly, they are nearly impossible to kill, are treated as superheroes by their admirers, and they’ve each pledged themselves to a House in order to avoid bloodshed and a world war.
So, all of a sudden, Tilly’s quiet life is interrupted by this (admittedly handsome) stranger, and he’s bearing a message from her dead mother. Desperate to hear the message, and also to find her brother Quinten, who’s been missing for years, she accompanies Abraham to Chicago to meet the head of House Grey, Oscar Grey, who is also the man that Abraham serves. Oscar Grey seems like a kind man, and Tilly is made an offer she may not be able to refuse, and finding Quinten is a priority. However, there are those that are planning a major coup among the Houses and the Galvanized, and those that are desperate to get their hands on a 13th Galvanized, who just happens to be Tilly (and she has something the other Galvanized lack.)
A far future world ruled by various Houses; creatures, and humans, stitched together by seemingly magical thread (Tillly’s grandmother’s little sheep are so cool-she knits from them, and the resulting fabric is very, very special), and time travel. What more could you possibly want? Tilly narrates and she’s a smart and capable heroine who, in spite of a bit of naiveté and some impulsive decision making, thinks pretty quickly on her feet in this bustling new world she’s thrown into. There is tons of chemistry between Tilly and the loyal, man-of-few-words Abraham, but it’s not the focus of the book, it just adds a nice new layer to an already unusual story. House Immortal deals mostly with Tilly navigating her very new world, and getting to know the politics of the Houses and the Galvanized, who are treated like rockstars by their fans (although technically, they are not considered humans and have no human rights.)
I loved the political intrigue of the Houses and there’s still plenty to mine where they’re concerned, since we really only get to know a few House leaders fairly well, like Oscar Grey and Slater Orange (House Oranges slimy leader), and Welton Yellow, the young head of House Yellow-Technology. Elwa, whose job it is to outfit Tilly for the various functions and get-togethers of the Galvanized, and is employed by Oscar Grey, reminds me a bit of Effie Trinket (for all you Hunger Games fans) and fusses over Tilly like an exotic, preening bird. Monk even weaves in some spycraft into her future world and the Galvanized are fascinating as well. Each has a story, and I’m hoping we’ll get to explore their distinct pasts in future books. House Immortal is absorbing and fun, and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. It’s one series I plan to stick with. Stay tuned for my review of Infinity Bell, because things really heat up for Tilly after the shocking conclusion of House Immortal.