Monday, March 24, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: House of Secrets

House of Secrets (House of Secrets, 1) by Chris Columbus, Ned Vizzini, April 23, 2013. 490 pages. Published by Balzer and Bray. Source: Library.
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.
First Sentence:
Brendan Walker knew the house was going to be terrible. 

I had been waiting patiently since early November for my chance to check out House of Secrets from my local library.

When I first started House of Secrets I did not care for the characters and I was a little bored with it. It's not that the writing was bad or the plot uninteresting, just that it seemed the only thing the Walker children did was complain about everything. But as their world got turned, even more, upside down as they were pulled into the main antagonists plot to gain the power that had been hidden out of her grasp, the characters and story really began to grow on me. I enjoyed that both of the children struggled with their desires to posses the power to ultimately give them what they wanted, but at a huge price. Like I said, it was interesting to see the different ways in which they struggled with the temptation presented to them and how they dealt with their actions afterwards.
  So, I guess you could say morally, the whole ultimate power and the struggle to resist it that the Walker children faced is what really made me want to continue following their quest to get back home.

One of the most attention grabbing aspects of House of Secrets would have to be the writing. Even though it was a little slow out the gate as you got to know the predicament that the Walker children were facing, I loved how visual the writing style of the two authors were. Once the Walkers moved into their new home and things started to head downhill (bet they never thought things could get any worse) the visually packed writing just pulled me in.

While I generally enjoyed reading House of Secrets, there is one thing that failed to impress me. The villain(s) and their motivations for the mayhem they caused throughout the book.
   I don't know about you, but sometimes it can get a little dull when the villains all have the same motive for the things they do, like, their desire for more power. While that is definitely a driving factor for why people/characters do things that seem morally wrong, it shouldn't be the only reason. So, the fact that the baddies in House of Secret were only fueled by their desire to garner more power was a little on the disappointing side. It would have been interesting to see the authors use a different motive, but alas, that is not the case. Even though I find the motive behind the villains actions a little lack-luster, this is definitely one thrilling read.

Final Verdict: House of Secrets- was definitely a unique and thrilling read that swept me away into the lives of the characters.

House of Secrets earns 4 out of 5 griffins

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