The House with the Golden Door – Elodie Harper

“The painter stands balanced on a wooden platform, his brushstrokes hidden from sight as he brings the goddess to life.

(The House with the Golden Door picks up where the first book, The Wolf Den, left off, so usual warning that even mentioning characters who appear in book 2 could be seen as spoilers for book 1, although I’ve tried to minimise all bar the MC.)

Amara has done the near-impossible, escaping life in the brothel and more importantly Felix, the pimp. But… has she? Is her new patron’s infatuation enough to keep her free? Should she try to help her former friends? And although this new life is so much better, is it really enough?

Despite the darkness of the themes, I was utterly swept up following Amara’s struggles in book one, so it’s great to be able to rejoin her story plus several of the characters we already know and a few new faces. However, it seems the balance to starting with better circumstances in book two is even darker themes, so much danger and tension, it was almost difficult to read this.

Although the writing remains excellent, I was a little less fond of this compared to the first book. In The Wolf Den, the situation is awful but there is a sense of hope. Here I feel we’ve swapped the hope for fear; Amara’s situation is so precarious, every step seems to be fraught with danger. And I just couldn’t agree with most of her choices – yes, emotionally they make sense, but she’s so often more logical that it hurt to see her take so many awful risks. It’s a tough one – she isn’t a robot, but then to almost literally hurl herself down the most dangerous routes – argh!

I did enjoy seeing Amara able to befriend other women and to be accepted by a ‘better class’ than the friends she perhaps should have left behind, but it remains horribly difficult to read about the realities of a society where women can have almost nothing without men giving it, and slavery is the norm. Digging even deeper into those themes here is both eye-opening and uncomfortable. I’m still glad I read it, but oy, the emotional strain! Still – roll on book 3! I absolutely need to know where Amara’s story will take her, and hopefully the stories of a few more of the She-Wolves.

The House with the Golden Door book coverNetGalley eARC: 400 pages / 48 chapters
First published: 2022
Series: The Wolf Den trilogy book 2
Read from 31st May – 6th June 2022

My rating: 8/10

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