Wednesday, May 22, 2013
House of Secrets by Ned Vizzini and Chris Columbus
This novel by Young Adult author Ned Vizzini and director Chris Columbus contains everything but the kitchen sink. It's an adventure story full of pirates, barbarians, witches, and magic. The main characters are the Walker children, Cordelia (Named after Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Cordelia Chase), Brendan, and Eleanor.
The Walker family has been living in hotels ever since the mysterious "incident" caused their surgeon father to lose his job. They have been looking for an affordable house to live in when they are offered the Kristoff House, a fully furnished mansion that was once owned by elusive author Denver Kristoff. The house seems too good to be true, and it just might be. Brendan sees a frightening angel statue in the yard, though his sisters accuse him of cowardice. All my fellow Whovians will understand that he is right in his fears. Angel statues are bad news, especially when they turn out to be witches.
The witch is actually Dahlia Kristoff, daughter of Denver Kristoff. She is the Weather Witch, and she attacks the family while they are enjoying pizza and Duck Soup. After the attack, the house is in a shambles, the Walker parents are missing, and the children are no longer on planet Earth.
Somehow, the witch transported them into a world made up of several of her father's books. That is how they meet barbarians and pirates, as well as a dashing World War II pilot with whom Cordelia develops a crush. The story quickly turns into a series of unfortunate events, as they get out of danger only to face yet more danger.
The Walkers are very smart and resourceful children. I liked the characters a lot, especially Cordelia's bookishness, Brendan's developing bravery, and how Eleanor was just an awesome kid. There is a good amount of violence, so this might be best for slightly older kids. Overall, this was a good start for a new series. House of Secrets could have easily been overstuffed, but it pulls everything off, even with the generous amounts of action, characters, and plot it has going.
I received my copy of House of Secrets from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer + Bray. It's available for purchase now.