Title: House of Secrets
Author: Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
Hardcover: 496 pages
Pub Date: April 23, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Summary from goodreads:
The Walker kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games . . . but everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by Denver Kristoff, a troubled writer with a penchant for the occult.
Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff’s dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Walker family’s secret history and save their parents . . . and maybe even the world
Books written for middle grade are interesting. There are some that branch into young adult and above and there are others that just fit perfectly for the 9-14 year-old range with little cross over. This book is the latter, but it is perfect for those 9-14 year olds of both genders!
If you are looking for a fantasy adventure look no further. This book has everything from witches to pirate to giants to horses and so much more. Every reader will see aspects of fantasy that they love.
There isn’t much character development in the first 150 pages of the book, but after that you see the characters start to grow and change. The three siblings are so different from each other, but it really works They range from 8-15, so readers are able to relate to the ages of the characters and the personality of at least one. It was great to see how different types of people react in situations. There was not ever one sibling that was always right or always wrong. I love the oldest sibling the most (and I think many bloggers would agree) because she is a bookworm and loves to learn. I loved her journey and growth throughout the book. The middle kid added some much needed humor, he had me laughing out loud several times. The youngest sister was great at expressing exactly what I was thinking while reading some of the scenes.
That said, this is a plot driven novel. There were times that I felt scenes were included just to get them in a movie, and with Chris Columbus attached to this, a movie is very possible. This is a big reason I think the crossover appeal isn’t there. Sure everything is easy to picture, but there is much less room for imagination.
I know kids don’t tend to read books for the lessons in them, but if you care about that there are good lessons about family, teamwork, and courage. Books also play a large part within the book and that was just a fun and great idea. It gave some foreshadowing and kept me at the edge of my seat.
I would agree with the quote that the brilliant J.K Rowling gave:
“A breakneck, jam-packed roller coaster of an adventure about the secret power of books, HOUSE OF SECRETS comes complete with three resourceful sibling heroes, a seriously creepy villainess, and barrel loads of fantasy and fear.”
– J.K. Rowling
I do recommend this book to readers in the age group or anyone who is looking for a fun, fast middle grade read. As long as you know what you are getting into, you won’t be disappointed.