What if our homes actually made us healthier, more spiritually evolved beings? Imagine a house so sleek and technologically advanced that it’s inhabitants, over time, slept longer and more deeply, ate healthier, and exercised more. Can the perfect home make the perfect person?
One Folgate Street is not an ordinary house, and Edward Monkford is unusual, even for an eccentric widower architect and champion of a new minimalist architecture movement. As a landlord he makes hefty emotional demands of his tenants, but buries them deep in the rental agreement’s fine-print.
Emma and Simon, a young couple looking for security after a break-in that left Emma traumatized and Simon desperate to help her, find the advantages and wow-factor of One Folgate Street outweigh the bizarre rules (a list that includes no pets, no alterations, no additional furniture, no leaving dishes or clothing or clutter out, no books, and no drapes). They are hoping to find peace and a way back to each other, but the house, and it’s enigmatic architect, may have other plans.
Jane is a bereaved single mother, mired in grief and looking for a fresh start. One Folgate Street is an unbelievable boon, even with the decidedly odd questionnaire she filled out. Perhaps the house, and the handsome (if controlling) architect, can be the way back to herself. Even the ghosts of Folgate Street seem to mirror her own.
The unreliable narrator strikes again in this psychological thriller in the vein of “Turn of Mind,” “Gone Girl,” and “Girl on a Train.” What happened to Mrs. Monkford and Emma? Will Jane’s fate be different? The women alternate narrating their experiences in One Folgate Street, and reveal the truth about the house’s bloody origins.
A smart house, a beautifully designed home that monitors the vital signs of inhabitants, controls lighting based on the sun’s movement, and plans meals based on what is in the refrigerator is not so far-fetched (and many of us wouldn’t even ask what Google or Apple did with our data). The technology to monitor security cameras, thermostats, lighting, even smoke and carbon monoxide detectors via smartphones already exists. Add a device that tracks vitals and we are living in less pretty, less deliberately designed, versions of Folgate Street. Delaney’s thriller emphasises the fine line technology walks between life-changing (and potentially saving if, for example, the house picks up on signs of impending medical disasters), and a violation of civil liberties and personal freedom.
The beauty is overwhelming. The technology is intoxicating. The challenge undeniable. We all love games, readers and characters alike, which is why we read books that promise twists and heart-stropping endings. This is why Emma, Simon, Jane, and Monkford all find themselves playing games of cat and mouse, no one quite certain who has the claws and who squeaks.