Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Orson Scott Card
HarperPrism Books, 291 pages

Orson Scott Card
Born in Richland, WA, Orson Scott Card grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He lived in Brazil for two years as an unpaid Mormon Church missionary. He received degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. He lives in Greensboro, NC with his wife, Kristine, and five children.

In an unprecedented fashion, Card won the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel two years in a row for Ender's Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, in 1986 and 1987.

Orson Scott Card Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Orson Scott Card Tribute Site
Orson Scott Card Tribute Site
Orson Scott Card Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Marc Goldstein

Call it a ghost story or a gothic romance, one thing is certain about Orson Scott Card's novel, Homebody: it's not science fiction. One of the most celebrated SF authors of the last twenty years, Card has rarely written outside the genre. But his passion for characterization and spirituality make him exceptional in a genre too often obsessed with high-concept plots and technological gimmickry. He is, perhaps, better equipped than most SF writers are to be able to stray from its parameters.

Homebody introduces us to Don Lark. Despite his mellifluous name, Lark carries a terrible burden. A few years back, his alcoholic ex-wife killed herself and their baby daughter in a car crash. By that time the legal fees from their bitter custody battle had already bankrupted his construction company and left him broke. Overwhelmed with grief and rage at the loss of his daughter, he retreats from the world. When he resurfaces, Lark finds a new way to make a living: he buys cheap run-down houses, fixes them up and sells them for a profit.

This lonely nomadic existence seems to suit Lark just fine until he runs into the Bellamy house, an old southern mansion with a past even more tragic than his own. Soon after Lark takes ownership of the Bellamy house, his solitary lifestyle begins to change. He strikes up a romance with real estate agent Cindy Claybourne. He makes friends with his next-door neighbors, a trio of elderly southern matrons. And when he discovers Sylvie, a homeless waif squatting in the house, he allows her to stay while he finishes the renovation.

As Lark continues his work, he begins uncovering clues to the mystery of the house's dark past. What is the secret of the prohibition-age rumrunner's tunnel beneath the basement? When he probes deeper into the puzzle, Sylvie and ladies next-door begin to behave strangely. Who is it that Sylvie speaks to when she is alone? Why do his elderly neighbors implore him to cease his renovation work and tear the house down? Even as forces conspire against him, Lark drives on. His quest to exorcise the ghosts that haunt the Bellamy house paralleling his desire to face his own personal demons and rebuild his life.

Despite the absence of SF conventions, Homebody deals with typical Card themes of family, spirituality, loss, and salvation. Lark is an archetypal Card protagonist: a decent, honest, compassionate man hanged by fate, and struggling to reclaim the peace of a forgotten past. Card's interest in redemption themes sometimes causes his stories to veer toward sentimentality. If that's a problem for you, then Homebody's probably not your book. While Lark's suffering is real and heart wrenching, the novel offers perhaps the least ambivalent conclusion in Card's oeuvre -- some may find it a bit too rosy.

Still, Card's prodigious gifts bubble to the surface. He effortlessly captures the breezy small-town atmosphere of his native Greenboro, and juxtaposes it effectively against the creepy claustrophobia of the Bellamy house. The narrative rushes along breathlessly as Lark peels back the layers concealing the house's tragic secrets. Card skillfully builds the paranoia and suspense, cranking it up to fever pitch during the breathless finalé. Lark emerges as a complex but always sympathetic protagonist. You can't help but be swept up in the scope of his grief and the exhilaration of his spiritual rebirth.

Copyright © 1998 by Marc Goldstein

Marc edits the SF Site's Role-Playing Game Department. He lives in Santa Ana, California with his wife, Sabrina, and their cat, Onion.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide