Kirsten Reviews: The Cake House by Latifah Salom

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Cake House by Latifah Salom

Part mystery, part compelling coming-of-age tale, The Cake House is a riveting debut novel that re-imagines the classic story of Hamlet amidst the hills of suburban Los Angeles.

Rosaura Douglas's father shot himself when her mother left him . . . or at least that's the story everyone is telling. Now her mother has remarried and Rosie is trapped in a new home she calls The Cake House, a garish pink edifice that's a far cry from the cramped apartment where she grew up. It's also the house where her father died—a fact that everyone else who lives there, including her mother, Dahlia, and her mysteriously wealthy stepfather, Claude, want to forget.

Soon, however, her father's ghost begins to appear; first as a momentary reflection in a window, then in the dark of night, and finally, in the lush garden behind the house where Rosie spends most of her days. After he warns her that Claude is not to be trusted, Rosie begins to notice cracks in her new family's carefully constructed facade. Dahlia is clearly uncomfortable in her marriage; her stepbrother, Alex, is friendly one second, distant the next, and haunted by troubles of his own; and Claude's business is drawing questions from the police. And as the ghost becomes increasingly violent--and the secrets of The Cake House and her family’s past come to light--Rosie must finally face the truth behind the losses and lies that have torn her life apart.

The Cake House by Latifah Salom is the story of a family disintegrating, a mystery, and a ghost that only its teenage protagonist Rosaura Douglas can see.

According to her mother, stepfather and the police, Rosaura's father shot himself when her mother left him. That leaves her trapped in a new house, The Cake House, as she calls it, a pink building that's nothing like the tiny apartment where she spent her childhood. Suddenly there is plenty of money, her step father buys her mother all sorts of gifts, and she is told that things will be different now. Everyone else, from her mother Dahlia to her stepfather Claude would just as soon forget all about Rosaura's father's death, but she can't, because his ghost is haunting her, and he warns Claude cannot be trusted.

Soon Rosaura notices that things are not as perfect as Claude would like them to think, his relationship with his son Alex is tense, there are strange phone calls that nobody will explain, and Claude always has money, but no apparent job. As Rosaura deals with her own loss, she has to reconcile her family's history with their current trajectory and finds that a ghost is far from the most frightening specter she faces.

This debut will be of interest to anyone looking for a coming of age novel that is unafraid to delve into family dysfunction, greed, and the ways tragedy can linger, whether or not readers believe in ghosts.
(Received a copy from the publisher)


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