The Mars House

The breakout genre-bender of 2024 from the internationally bestselling author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

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Pub Date 19 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 22 Mar 2024

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From the #1 bestselling author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, a queer sci-fi novel about a refugee from Earth and a Mars politician who agree to a fake marriage after a media encounter damages both their reputations.

In the wake of environmental catastrophe, January, once a principal in London's Royal Ballet, has become a refugee on Tharsis, the terraformed colony on Mars. In Tharsis, January's life is dictated by his status as an Earthstronger-a person whose body is not adjusted to Mars's lower gravity and so poses a danger to those born on, or naturalized to, Mars. January's job choices, housing, and even transportation options are dictated by this second-class status, and now a xenophobic politician named Aubrey Gale is running on a platform that would make it all worse: Gale wants all Earthstrongers to be surgically naturalized, a process that is always disabling and can be deadly.

When Gale chooses January for an on-the-spot press junket interview that goes horribly awry, January's life is thrown into chaos, but Gale's political fortunes are damaged, too. Gale proposes a solution to both their problems: a five year made-for-the-press marriage that would secure January's future without immediate naturalization and ensure Gale's political future. But when January accepts the offer, he discovers that Gale is not at all like they appear in the press. They're kind, compassionate, and much more difficult to hate than January would wish. But as their romantic relationship develops, the political situation worsens, and January discovers Gale has an enemy, someone willing to destroy all of Tharsis to make them pay - and January may be the only person standing in the way.

From the #1 bestselling author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, a queer sci-fi novel about a refugee from Earth and a Mars politician who agree to a fake marriage after a media encounter damages...

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ISBN 9781399618533
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Featured Reviews

Rescued from a now underwater London, January is offered refuse on Mars. The gravity there means that he is much stronger than the locals and best suited to factory work. It’s a long way from the glamour of the London stage, but at least it’s a living. That is until he says the wrong thing to the wrong person and his second chance is yanked out from under him. Could he possibly be lucky enough to get a third?

As usual, Natasha Pulley has pulled an absolute success from the depths of her wondrous imagination. She has managed to build a whole new culture, with a whole new set rules, whilst still keeping her characters impressively relatable. And what characters they are: no stereotypes welcome here! January is a conflicting character with both soft and hard edges to him. He can give and take an insult as easily as anyone, yet is the first to step in whenever he senses even a hint of vulnerability in someone else. What is most impressive is the adaptability that both Gale and January portray, both able to meld completely into new situations without ever losing their own identities.

For the first few chapters I wasn’t really sure where the plot was going to go. However, this didn’t stop me from being fully engaged with every page. In fact it actually added to my enjoyment, letting me immerse myself in this new world without any pressures of an intense plot. By the time the main angles of the plot did begin to appear, I was fully invested in the characters: they could have done anything and I would have loved them for it. Fortunately, what they did do was fully loveable in its own right. Throughout, this book kept me enraptured with its intoxicating mix of political intrigue, mystery, romance, betrayal, and different people pulling together in hard times.

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Fanfic writing and literary teamed up for The Mars House where politics and fake marriage from Winter’s Orbit meet the warning about our current world from To Paradise.
Imagine. A flooded London. The Chinese saving the British. Saudi Arabia turning back refugee boats from the UK. A Chinese colony on Mars. Special train carriages, special houses, special entrances, and so on for so-called Earthstrongers (people from Earth). Forcing people to change because of how they’re born. Gender Abolition. Imagine. And think. 

Natasha Pulley’s writing is always elusive. Not much seems to be happening, and still, you feel the uneasiness below the surface in every word and every sentence. You’re waiting to peel off layer by layer, to find snippets of information to help you lose that turmoil in your body, but instead, your radar starts whirling, and you might think you’re going mad. As a reader, it makes you extremely frantic because what if you’re missing something essential? So, The Mars House started in slow motion, with numerous footnotes, and it made me read even more slowly. And at the same time, the story gripped me because I instantly felt the social importance of this book. It’s an apparent reference to the world we’re living in right now, with climate change and populism and excluding others.
There’s always a slow-slow-slow-burn love story in Natasha’s novels between two traumatized people. The fake marriage between January and Gale is no different. Starting as magnets with their repelling poles pointed at each other—January hates everything Gale thinks, and Gale hates everything January is—eventually, they start teasing and grinning and suddenly having rather normal conversations. Everything seems to be fine (except for Gale’s political positions), and even I, a huge Natasha Pulley fan, started to wonder if this book would be anything like her other books. But my heart opened up for Gale and January, oh sweet January, and warmth slid inside my body, and small smiles tilted up my lips while, at other times, chills started to creep up my arms, and I was reading faster and faster, and ... About halfway through the novel, I had an inkling and … sorry, I’m saying no more. Only … mammoths (movie-like!)… and know my inkling was correct!

If you haven’t read anything by Natasha Pulley yet, I’m not sure if you should start with this one. On the other hand, none of them might seem to be the best to begin with. They all give you doubt and confusion and furrowed brows. The most important thing is to just surrender to her storytelling and not quit when you feel bored or utterly confused. The pacing in her books is slow, especially in the first part, but eventually, the story will unfold itself, and suddenly you understand why so many readers are Natasha Pulley stans! 
And now I want that sequel to Valery K Natasha was talking about on Twitter! Publishers, do you hear me? US READERS NEED THAT SEQUEL DESPERATELY!!

Actual rating 4.5 stars rounded up to five.

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Thank you to Orion and Netgalley for the chance to read this. First of all, I am a Natasha Pulley fan. I’ve read all their books and adored many of her characters. Even though this one is set in the future, it is still solidly one of their books - the writing is beautiful, crisp and precise, the characters bleed off the pages and into the reader’s mind (and heart).

Here there lies an epic slo-burn romance, political shenanigans, hideous bigotry and a convoluted plot that touches on so many issues that beleaguer our current world - all done without any ranting or raging. I could have done without one flashback, as I thought it unnecessary, but otherwise I was utterly engaged. I loved the dance, the Houses, the angst, the mammoths (❤️) and most of all, damaged January, who deserves happiness.

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I loved The Mars House!
I had never heard of this book or author before but I had to request to read it when I saw what it was about and I'm so happy I did!
I'm also definitely going to be checking out more of Natasha Pulleys work.

Everything about this book was so good!
I loved the characters so much, the story was amazing and the writing was really good.
It's definitely become a new favourite!

I definitely highly recommend this book!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a review.

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