Monday, 29 April 2013

House Of Secrets - Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini

House Of Secrets - Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini @Twitter
ISBN -  9780007490141 (UK)
             9780062192462 (US)
Publisher - Harper Collins Children's Books (UK)
                  Balzer + Bray (US)
Find - Book Depository/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.' -

I've never read anything by Ned Vizzini but as soon as I heard he was writing a children's book with Chris Columbus (yes, that Chris Columbus, Harry Potter Chris Columbus, Percy Jackson Chris Columbus, writer of Goonies & Gremlins Chris Columbus...) I was sold! I didn't need to know what it was about because I was going to get my hands on a copy! And boy am I glad I did!

Promising adventure and mayhem from the start, we're introduced to the Walker children, Cordelia (Buffy not King Lear), Brendan and Eleanor (who exist in real life as Eleanor & Brendan Columbus, two of the author's children!) as they arrive at 128 Sea Cliff Avenue to view a house with their parents. The sighting of a one-handed stone angel adds an air of menace to the beautiful Kristoff House and from there you know the children are in for a bumpy ride. The family are all moved in and things are finally starting to their way until an old lady appears at the front door. Dahlia Kristoff is a woman with a mission and that mission is to find a book by the name of 'The Book Of Doom And Desire', discovered by her father, Denver Kristoff (a famous author) and Rutherford Walker (the children's great-grandfather. Fate would appear to have led the family to Kristoff House... 

The old lady has become the Wind Witch and whirls the Walker children and their new house into another world, leaving them to believe their parents are dead and to find the book for her. Here, the adventure kicks up several notches when it becomes evident they are in a place populated by characters and places from Denver Kristoff''s books. There are the fearless warriors with their leader Slayne, Will Draper the WW1 pilot, the pirates led by Captain Sangray, an evil queen, resistance fighters, giants, hidden passages in the walls, spell scrolls and much more! The action is fast paced and keeps the book moving along nicely, the relationship between the three siblings is realistic and none of them are perfect by any stretch but they stick together when it matters. I think Eleanor, the youngest, was my favorite character, she certainly seemed to be more together than the other two and I liked her quips about Cordelia having a crush on Will.

The whole time I was reading House Of Secrets I could picture everything in my head like a movie and quite honestly given the authors,  this would make the perfect movie! In fact, that's my only quibble - at times it did seem more like a movie script than a book but that's not really a bad thing (to me anyway). I read an e-galley so I didn't get to see any of the illustrations that are in the book but I am intending on buying a copy to add to F & E's shelves for when they get to the right age.

Thanks to HarperCollins for approving me via Netgalley to read this.

Just for comparison purposes, this is the US cover - I can't make my mind up which one I like better, they both appeal in one way or another!


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