Mad House: An Altearth Tale by Ellis L. Knox - Book Review

Write on: Tue, 14 Jul 2020 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 2040

I love Knox's mix of history and fantasy, so was happy to find this novelette. 

What to Expect

A quick read about a roguish sprite, a loyal ogre, and a house made of magic.

This story is mostly atmospheric, but serves as an excellent intro or sample of Knox's longer works.

What I liked

I liked the characters, with their foibles and growth even in such a short span. I loved the premise of the story and the final resolution.

What to be aware of

It's a short work, and while Knox is clear about the alt-history nature of his work it doesn't do justice to his usual deep grounding in a particular period (usually there's more history involved in the world-building, which I adore).

Felix's Review

Felix has been in a few houses gone mad, so can sympathise with the protagonist's experiences. He's not sure about the final resolution, but that's not about the story - more about the future prospects of a sequel.


Excellent quick read, and if you like it I'd strongly recommend Knox's other works (see my reviews of Goblins at the Gate and Into the Second World)




Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr