The House of Madame M

h1 April 21st, 2020 by jules

It’s tricky to write about books like Clotilde Perrin’s The House of Madame M (Gecko, April 2020), because it’s a paper-engineered one. That is, it’s tricky to show art from such a book, because there are flaps; pop-up elements (in this case, a pop-up fireplace); interactive moving parts, such as pull tabs; and even strings. These aren’t exactly things that can be captured in the static images at a website, but I have some art from the book for you today — in the hopes that you can still get a sense of Perrin’s distinctive style. (If you saw this 2018 book, you’re already familiar with the picture book joy she brings.) This one was originally published in French in 2019 and has been translated by Daniel Hahn.

The timing of the release of this English edition is interesting, because it’d be a fab book for Halloween. No mind. Just hold on to it till then (and in the meantime, we can pretend it’s October now and that we are living pandemic-free). And let me stress that it’s a book you can enjoy any time of year. It’s an invitation into the home of Madame M, a home filled with sinister shadows and eerie discoveries; a sort of bird-human hybrid (pictured above) is our guide. You must enter quietly and not touch anything, we read, because she’s a “little peculiar” and “doesn’t live alone.” When you pull tabs and lift flaps to explore, opening cabinets, drawers, appliances in the ghastly kitchen, and much more, you discover that Madame M prefers the macabre. The text understates this (she “has rather odd tastes,” we read), yet our eyes take in sinister warnings everywhere; bones strewn along the floor; a hideous monster hanging from the kitchen ceiling; skeletons in the garbage disposal; and much more. The book’s interactive elements reveal most of the monsters, large and small, and skeletons, though they linger just about everywhere. Look closely, and you’ll even see a tiny winged creature, who appears to be a tiny angel — to balance things out, I suppose (though this angel could contain multitudes, for all we know).

The Kirkus review calls Madame M’s home “the Airbnb from, literally, hell.” That about covers it. It all culminates in a set of large, hairy arms. Pull the arm flaps open to see many of the nightmarish creatures spotted throughout the story, gathered in one spot, underneath a sign saying “Abandon hope all who enter here.” The door creaks as our guide mentions that “she” is back, adding: “Don’t you want to lie down for a bit? No? Are you sure?”

Here are some spreads to give you a sense of what I mean, though remember: Since it’s hard to show static images of a book with interactive elements, you’ll see numbers where there is actually a tab (the numbers of course don’t appear in the book) — and some of the flaps simply aren’t shown here. Enjoy anyway!


“Are you lost? Please, come on in. Lucky for you, there’s no one here just now. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“As you can tell, our hostess has rather odd tastes. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“You felt an icy wind brush past? No, you must be dreaming already. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

THE HOUSE OF MADAME M. English language edition © Gecko Press Ltd 2019. Text and illustrations © Clotilde Perrin. Translation © Daniel Hahn. Illustrations reproduced by permission of Gecko Press.

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact Thanks.