2013 · 4 stars · horror · ya

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

Title: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
Author: Claire Legrand (websitetwitter)
Pub. Date: August 28, 2012
Source: Library
Summary: Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.
Genre: YA, Horror
Rating: star-half-64

“We don’t run indoors. We don’t disobey our elders. We don’t speak too loudly. Sometimes we don’t even speak at all, hmm? Sometimes children shouldn’t say a word.”

Victoria Wright is the best at everything she does. She wakes up at precisely the same time every single day, she expects her school uniform to be pressed just so, and all of her desk accessories are in clearly labelled boxes. Her parents brag about her to their friends – who certainly don’t have children nearly as perfect as Victoria – and when her teachers assign 5-page papers she hands in 10.

Then came the day Victoria never dreamed would happen: she received a B in Music.

She had been too angry and ashamed in her less-than-perfect grade to notice the disappearance of her best friend Lawrence. Lawrence, who constantly needed reminders to comb his hair or tuck in his shirt. Lawrence, who loved his piano above all else – despite his parents’ wishes to follow in their footsteps and pursue a career in dental care. Lawrence, who might be a fairly average student, but would certainly never receive a B in Music.

All her life, Victoria had never been one for tears. When people cried, it made her uncomfortable. People who cried couldn’t handle their lives, and Victoria could always handle everything. Plus, crying messed up your face. It was disorderly and inconvenient.

When Victoria finally does realize Lawrence is missing, she immediately heads to his house to find out where he went. His parents casually mention a sick grandmother, but Victoria can’t help but notice something is…off: their smiles are a little too wide, their eyes a little too bright. The more people Victoria runs into, the more she notices things aren’t quite right. While her own mother is no stranger to skin creams and products, her neighbors are starting to look less like humans and more waxy and shiny.

Also, she can’t help but notice the sudden swarm of bugs popping up all over town.

Victoria’s investigation eventually leads her to the largest house in town: the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. Until now, Victoria never had a need to visit the orphanage and avoided it at all costs (who knows what kind of filth and germs those children would have!), but with time running out – and more missing children – Victoria will stop at nothing to bring Lawrence back.

“I must have imagined it,” she told herself, slipping into her bed and shutting her eyes tight. “I imagined it, I imagined it. Houses don’t move like that. Houses aren’t alive.”

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is a book that had been on my radar for a while now, but it wasn’t until I received an ARC of Legrand’s The Year of Shadows (out this August), that I made the decision to move Cavendish up a few spots on my list.

Spring has finally graced Pittsburgh and that means rain. Rain and gloomy, dark days. I can’t think of a better atmosphere for a novel like this. I curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and a blanket and devoured this book in a sitting. Initially I had my doubts about Victoria. She was the quintessential definition of a snob, yet this was the main character! How on earth was I going to spend 300+ pages with her and her incessant quibbling over incorrectly ironed pleats?

Imagine my absolute shock when I realized I really liked Victoria! Her need for perfection would have been intolerable in anyone else, but with her, it was adorable. Her quirks came off as amusing rather than grating, and her no-nonsense attitude helped move the story along at a wonderful pace. The story doesn’t really come alive until Victoria winds up in the Cavendish Home, but once she does, the book takes off beautifully.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls reminds me of dark, gothic stories I enjoyed enormously as a child. It’s delightfully creepy and the sinister feel didn’t let up once. Interspersed throughout the chapters are gorgeous full-page illustrations and every so often there are smaller illustrations of bugs. Ha, more than once I forgot they were just drawings and nearly threw the book across the room. That those drawings kept me on edge while reading only added to the overall feel of the novel and worked in its favor.

Though this is most definitely YA, there were a few moments that surprised me – unbeknownst to the children, they were partaking in cannibalism. These instances did nothing to hinder my enjoyment of the book, however.

Having one Legrand novel under my belt, I cannot wait to read The Year of Shadows! If you’re in the mood for a dark tale, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is for you!

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4 thoughts on “The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

  1. I didn’t know or didn’t remember that this was horror/creepy, but I really like the sound of it from what you’ve shared. I can totally see myself liking Victoria too, I really enjoy characters like her, who at first make you feel annoyed but slowly grow on you!

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