Series: House of Secrets #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 23rd 2013
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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.
House of Secrets is a book that was on my radar for a while, and I just didn't get to reading it when it came out. Being quite a hunk of a book, I dove into it expecting a great adventure story like Percy Jackson or Harry Potter. The Walkers move into a new house that seems too good to be true and sure enough, it is. Owned previously by a famous writer Denver Kristoff, his daughter – an old witch like character – shows up and takes their parents and the whole house with the three siblings is transported to someplace they don't recognize.
In order to get their parents back, they must find this book but the only way to find it is through their most selfish desires. With the help of a strange new character, they will have to decide how to get back themselves for fear of giving into this seemingly evil book and the evil witch who wants it.
Eleanor is by far my favorite of the three siblings, being the youngest. She also felt the most realistic, being visible upset by her parents being taken away and possibly killed, but also having a lot of moments of courage. Brendan is your average sarcastic male character, who plays sports, doesn't care for reading and would rather be playing video games. For moments of danger, he felt a bit over sarcastic at times and definitely didn't get any sympathy pangs from me as a reader. Cordelia is the older sister and of course falls in love with the handsome pilot. I should have connected a little more to her, as she is the bookworm type character, but she just felt a little too.. ditzy to be a bookworm.. I'm not sure how to put it. I wished she would have mooned less throughout the book and focused on the task at hand.
The best part of House of Secrets was when they faced the pirates. I just love me some great pirates and Columbus definitely delivered some fierce battles, some skullduggery and an evil captain character that made you shiver in fear. I really wanted to love House of Secrets, but just ended up liking it. There's some great moments, but overall the book felt a little too packed with missions to accomplish, characters to meet and a witch to defeat. Being one for quick action, I still felt it lacked a bit of luster. Everything lined up with plot, characters and some very interesting settings, but something didn't quite connect for me as a reader.
Final Verdict: Fans of high adventure with a pinch of fantasy that love a thicker book should read House of Secrets – especially if you loved books like Inkheart.