Month One - October
For my birthday this year, Rosalind bought me a subscription called A Book and a Brew. The concept is simple: every month you receive a box containing a book and some tea. They are usually themed around the usual concerns of the month. And as I took my first delivery in October, it was Hallowe’en themed: The book was ‘The Death House’ by Sarah Pinborough, and the tea was a cosy Black Tea with Caramel.
Book - The Death House by Sarah Pinborough
The Death House is a house on an unnamed small island (possibly somewhere North of Scotland?) inhabited by children, ostensibly living in isolation. They are watched over by stony-hearted and stony-faced nurses and teachers, who give them minimal attention; food, basic lessons. Only, these children carry an unnamed disease, which, when it manifests, means the children are taken to The Infirmary, hidden at the top of the building. This happens only in the dead of night. To most of the children in the home, it seems they just disappear. But to our hero Toby, who surreptitiously doesn’t take his sleeping pills, he knows the nurses come down in a lift and take them. Toby doesn’t take his pills so he can have the run of the old mansion at night. He can feel some degree of freedom, imprisoned as he is. But his whole world is changed with the arrival of a new batch of children and particularly the mysterious Clara.
Although sold as a horror, it read more like a YA novel, and it had - it’s not really giving anything away to say - a strong romantic streak. It didn’t unfold as I expected; it seemed like the characters took over, and pushed it away from the story it promised at the start. And whilst, at the time, that frustrated me, by removing the symmetry I love in fiction, on reflection I think it worked. It was its own book. And if nothing else, I read it quickly, and cared for the characters.
Don’t go into it expecting too much horror, and you won’t be disappointed.
Brew - Oteas Black Tea with Caramel
This tea contains real caramel chunks, and yes - that gives it a real caramel flavour. Probably not great for the teeth though. Most caramel teas, I’ve found, smell of caramel and taste of tea. This manages to smell of tea and caramel, and taste of tea and caramel. It was a worthy hallowe’eny hot drink.