Title: House of Secrets
Series: House of Secrets, #1
Author: Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
Published: Balzer + Bray, April 2013
Source: received a copy from publisher
Links: [goodreads][amazon.com][the book depository]
From legendary Hollywood director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and bestselling author Ned Vizzini (It’s Kind of a Funny Story) comes this first book in an epic new fantasy series.
Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker once had everything: two loving parents, a beautiful house in San Francisco, and all the portable electronic devices they could want. But everything changed when Dr. Walker lost his job in the wake of a mysterious incident. Now in dire straits, the family must relocate to an old Victorian house that used to be the home of occult novelist Denver Kristoff — a house that feels simultaneously creepy and too good to be true.
By the time the Walkers realize that one of their neighbors has sinister plans for them, they’re banished to a primeval forest way off the grid. Their parents? Gone. Their friends? A world away. And they aren’t alone. Bloodthirsty medieval warriors patrol the woods around them, supernatural pirates roam the neighboring seas, and a power-hungry queen rules the land. To survive, the siblings will have to be braver than they ever thought possible — and fight against their darkest impulses. The key may lie in their own connection to the secret Kristoff legacy. But as they unravel that legacy, they’ll discover it’s not just their family that’s in danger . . . it’s the entire world.
Do you like stories that invoke vivid images in your mind while you’re reading?
If so, you’ll probably enjoy reading House of Secrets.
While the story has its funny, wild and untamed moments, House of Secrets is certainly not a cute, feel-good type of middle-grade fantasy. In the story, we have Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker – the children of two loving parents who are desperately trying to get themselves out of a tough financial situation. When the real estate agent finds them a home that is on sale at a very affordable price, the Walkers take the house and move in, believing that this new home will be their first step of a fresh start. Unfortunately, a weird person shows up at their doorstep and before they know what’s really happening, the three children find themselves stranded in an unfamiliar, unfriendly environment. Their only hope now is to comply with what this weird person demands. Can the Walkers find their way back home?
Personally, I find the story a bit too savage and spiteful. While each of the children has their own distinctive habits and personalities, they are not adorable characters. Brendan is impulsive and wimpy. Eleanor is wild. And Cordelia … em … she seems a tad too smart to see her own flaws. If you dislike characters that are whiny, loud, annoying and reckless, I’m afraid you may not have much tolerance for these children.
The plot of the story is imaginative and a little unpredictable. I welcome the element of surprise, although I did find some of the scenes appeared to be less carefully thought out than others. Despite the somewhat inconsistent flow to the story, I must say House of Secrets is entertaining.
If I may highlight one thing that I especially like, I’d say it’s the tone of the story. Particularly towards the end, I like that the story somehow conveys a false sense of ease that makes things look and feel unnervingly sinister. So, while I have mixed feelings about this book, I still think the story would appeal to a wide variety of audience.
To watch a 2-min video about the book, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29BUyTajg7M.