House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
|House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: An enjoyable plot with some great action scenes just about makes up for fairly thin characters in the first in a promising new series.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 560||Date: April 2013|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
The Walker family used to have a big house in San Francisco, but after their father lost his job in mysterious circumstances, they were forced to move into the spooky Kristoff House, a strange place once occupied by a disturbed fantasy author. Soon after they move in, they realise that their arrival has set terrible events in motion, and children Cordelia, Brendan and Eleanor are forced to try and rescue their parents from a terrible fate.
Chris Columbus is most famous as a film director and screenwriter, with credits including the first two Harry Potter films, while people of a similar age to myself may well remember his scripts for the classics Gremlins and Goonies. I mention this because his background really does shine through her, with lots of exciting action sequences which are easy to imagine – indeed, of all the recent children’s books I’ve read this is the one which seems to be crying out for a film adaptation the loudest.
Columbus and co-author Ned Vizzini have done a great job in conjuring up a clever scenario, memorable set pieces, and a heartwarming relationship between the trio of siblings who start the novel often sniping at each other but quickly come to rely on each other for survival. Where it slips slightly is in the overall characterisation. I quite liked Brendan, Eleanor and Cordelia, but they're not particularly strong personalities. Similarly, the main villains are easy to dislike but don't really stand out, and the supporting cast – particularly the love interest for Cordelia – are rather too bland, which stopped me feeling fully involved.
Still, despite these issues, there's enough of a strong storyline with some fun scenes to make this at least a mild recommendation to young readers looking for an exciting book, and it's a series I'm interested in reading more of.
For more action-packed books for younger readers, Andy Briggs is a favourite of mine. His Tarzan series, starting with Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy by Andy Briggs is fabulous.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.