Parents' Guide to

The House of the Spirits

By Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Magical novel explores personal, political passions.

The House of the Spirits Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 18+

I would like to say something good, but...

Honestly, not only is it inappropriate, but its just not good. The timeline causes for a lack of plot and therefore a lack of drive for the story. There is lots of sex, rape, prostitution, and pornography. If you're thinking you could use this book to dive deeper into ethical dilemmas, prepare to be disappointed. There is no evidence to justify any of the negative actions of the character and so what you're left with is a bunch of people agreeing that rape is bad. Wow, that cleared that up! For a second I thought rape was GREAT! Now there is the setting. We see Chile progress through time and politics, however, the author prefers to focus on sex. This leaves a fascinating portion of the story untold. "Magical Realism" is quite the joke if you've ever read a non-fiction fantasy book, but if not, you might be impressed. The only people I have ever known to like this book are uneducated sex-obsesed freaks.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
1 person found this helpful.
age 18+


With pretty mature subject matter and a complex timeline, this book might not be appropriate or well-liked by kids in high school, but having a background of understanding of what was going on in Chile, where the book takes place although it is not explicitly stated, and a developed conversation of Isabel Allende's purposes and techniques, a mature reader can understand what a well-written book this is. Magical Realism is a difficult writing style, but Allende incorporates magical elements in a way that seems organic and normal, and the cyclical timeline of the women in the family leaves the reader often creating their own hypotheses and asking for more. I also think that making the lifeline of Esteban Trueba the sole linear aspect of the novel is crucial to understanding the rest of the plot. Furthermore, the use of two narrators is another way that Allende baits the reader on to ask questions and keep reading because the answer to who the second narrator is only makes sense when you realize what happens to the Trueba family. Overall an excellent book but understandably not appreciated by younger generations.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (6):

Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits is epic in its personal and political scope, and in its sheer beauty. Her elegant prose weaves easily between the two different points of view in the book: the patriarchal grandfather clinging to the past, and his forward-thinking, soft-hearted granddaughter. All of Allende's characters are complex and beautifully realized. This brilliant novel is a great literary achievement on every level, as it seamlessly intertwines the characters' personal and political passions and the momentous events of their times.

Book Details

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