Skip to Content. Get age-based picks. Plus libraries and reading are highly valued by Cordelia, the eldest sister. There's a clear temptation for the Walker siblings in the form of the Book of Doom and Desire , and they must do something selfish and impulsive to make it appear. This leads to lessons in sticking together in a crisis and resisting the temptation for power and glory. The Walker siblings bicker like all siblings but come together in crisis and risk their lives for one another. Eleanor, the youngest, has dyslexia and overcomes the obstacles it poses in key moments of the story.
Will is a little sexist Cordelia lays into him about it but otherwise a good protector for the Walkers. He tries to keep his gun from Brendan, explaining the great responsibility that goes with having a gun. The Walker siblings, who lose their parents and think they are gone forever, are in danger for their lives most of the time. They get injured by stabbing with swords, burns, cannonball fire, gunfire the tip of Brendan's earlobe is shot off , and being tossed about by a murderous witch.
They are also threatened with being thrown to hungry sharks, finger amputation, and even vivisection live autopsy. Gory or bloody scenes involve the removal of an arrow and improvised stitches, an eyeball pierced by an arrow, a couple of fatal stabbings, talk of the pirate captain's penchant for vivisection, and murder with a flaming mace.
There's also a plane crash, hands being shot, a grenade thrown, and a chase by murderous cursed skeletons. Occult books with mentions of nasty experiments are found in a secret passage and left behind. Cordelia is often teased about her crush on Will. Then Brendan almost kisses a girl and it turns into an awkward hug. Some nonsexual nakedness when skeletons come back to life. Will has a flask of whiskey that is used medicinally here. The Walker siblings talk about an uncle who drank a lot so now they don't allow it in their house.
Pirates find the wine cellar and drink and party heartily. With lots of action-violence featuring kids battling pirates, mercenaries, cursed skeletons, and supernatural forces, it feels a bit like Gremlins and The Goonies.
But House of Secrets can get gory, too, with talk of live autopsies performed by the pirate captain, a couple of fatal stabbings, kids removing an arrow and stitching up the wound themselves, and an eyeball pierced by an arrow and then plucked out intact. The three Walker siblings at the center of the story are threatened by death constantly, and their loyalty to one another is tested; luckily, they always come together in a crisis.
Add your rating See all 2 parent reviews. Add your rating See all 4 kid reviews. The day Cordelia, Brendan, and Eleanor Walker visit Kristoff House with their parents, they know there has to be something wrong with it. Could it be the fishy price? No way a mansion on the Pacific could cost so little. Or could it be the creepy one-handed, bald witch that threatens Brendan in the backyard? On move-in day it's all movie night fun and pizza until the witch shows up and throws down a curse. And faster than you can say Wizard of Oz , the house lands in another world, which is a mashup of fantasy novels written by the home's namesake, Denver Kristoff.
The witch will keep the Walkers there until they bring her The Book of Doom and Desire , an occult tome that will appear only to the sibling who does something impulsive and selfish.
Book Review: House of Secrets
As the Walkers decide that they won't help the witch get what she wants, they're tested. They think having no cell phone reception and flushing toilets is bad -- until the mercenaries arrive. And the colossus. And the pirates. And sword-wielding skeletons Co-author Chris Columbus has an eye for a mainstream hit. Say it together now: "Goonies never say die! There's an evil fantasy world with no escape, a witch with a curse, occult rituals, pirates, mercenaries, giants, sharks, fighting skeletons, secret passageways, and things coming back from the dead.
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Chris Columbus - House of Secrets: Clash of the Worlds (Corte Madera) | Book Passage
The kids are thrown into three books written by Kristoff, with characters from some of those books helping the kids while others, well, actually most see the kids as intruders and enemies. The kids are typical siblings who mostly bicker but do protect each other. Each of them must muster up courage and bravery, a willingness to make quick decisions then follow through, and, at least once, be utterly selfish regardless of the possible negative consequences cause to others.
I love The House of Secrets , though admittedly at times it is a scary read. Not nightmarish, cannot sleep, nor keep-the-lights-on scary. The pirate captain collects human body parts while the captive is still alive. What is a pirate without a bit of torture? This is one time telling instead of showing works. Some of the characters from the other books become real, though they are fictional, and you wonder if they will make it and if not, will they die or simply return to the story from whence they came.
You will become absorbed in the fates of Eleanor, Brendan, and Cordelia. The story pulls you in at every word.
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House of Secrets reminded me a little of the Wizard of Oz as the house twists and turns from book to book. The story plops into the middle of a book, then another, and another, sometimes taking a character with them to the next. The children must use the story they fall into to get out of their own story and back to the Kristoff House and their parents.
The House of Secrets is a fantastical adventurous drama, with lots of humor. Its pages will zoom by, as you cannot resist turning page after page.
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The House of Secrets has its own secrets, including hidden rooms and halls, but more may exist in the final two books. Whatever secrets lay in wait is dependent upon the imaginations of the two wildly creative authors Columbus and Vizzini. Do not miss this trilogy! Seriously, this one-of-a-kind story will be the next middle grade breakout smash hit! Kid Lit Reviews. Like Like. This is going to be one of the biggest books of Just who the authors are will push this up the charts.
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And the cover is fantastic. I bet this becomes a movie after the trilogy has had its run. A movie would be unreal with all the special effects that will be needed — just for book one! Not my usual fare, but I may know some kids I can recommend it to.