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"Nothing but trees," the bear said in Xander's voice. It repeated itself: "Nothing but trees."
Xander king turned away from the car window and stared into the smiling furry face, with its shiny half-bead eyes and stitched-on nose. "I mean it, Toria," he said. "Get that thing out of my face. And turn it off."
His sister's hands moved quickly over the teddy bear's paws, all the while keeping it suspended three inches in front of Xander. The bear repeated, "I mean it, Toria. Get that-"
At fifteen years old, Xander was too old to be messing around with little-kid toys. He seized the bear, squeezing the paw that silenced it.
"Mom!" Toria yelled. "Make him give Wuzzy back!" she grabbed for it.
Xander turned away from her, tucking Wuzzy between his body and the car door. Outside his window, nothing but trees-as he had said and Wuzzy had echoed. It reminded him of a movie, as almost everything did. This time it was The Edge, about a bear intent on eating Anthony Hopkins. An opening shot of the wilderness where it was filmed showed miles and miles of lush forest. Nothing but trees.
A month ago his dad had announced that he had accepted a position as principal of a school six hundred miles away, and the whole king family had to move from the only home Xanderhad ever known. They were going to a place he had never even heard of: Pinedale, almost straight north from their home in Pasadena. Still in California, but barely. Pinedale. the name itself said "hick," "small," and "If you don't die here, you'll wish you had." of course, he had screamed, begged, sulked, and threatened to run away. But in the end here he was, wedged in the back seat with his nine-year-old sister and twelve-year-old brother.
The longer they drove, the thicker the woods grew, and the more miserable he became. It was bad enough leaving his friends, his school-everything!-but to be leaving them for Hicksville, in the middle of nowhere, was a stake through his heart.
"Mom!" Toria yelled again, reaching for the bear.
Xander squeezed closer to the door, away from her. He must have put pressure on the bear in the wrong place: it began chanting in Toria's whiny voice: "Mom! Mom! Mom!"
He frantically squeezed Wuzzy's paws, but could not make it stop.
"Mom! Mom! Mom!"
The controls in the bear's arms weren't working. Frustrated by its continuous one-word poking at his brain-and a little concerned he had broken it and would have to buy her a new one-he looked to his sister for help.
She wasn't grabbing for it anymore. Just grinning. One of those see-what-happens-when-you-mess-with-me smiles.
"Mom! Mom! Mom!"
Xander was about to show her what happened when you messed with him-the possibilities ranged from a display of his superior vocal volume to ripping Wuzzy's arms right off-when the absurdity of it struck him. He cracked up.
"I mean it," he laughed. "this thing is driving me crazy." He shook the bear at her. It continued yelling for their mother.
His brother, David, who was sitting on the other side of Toria and who had been doing a good job of staying out of the fight, started laughing too. He mimicked the bear, who was mimicking their sister: "Mom! Mom! Mom!"
Mrs. King shifted around in the front passenger seat. She was smiling, but her eyes were curious.
"Xander broke Wuzzy!" Toria whined. "He won't turn off." She pulled the bear out of Xander's hands.
The furry beast stopped talking: "Mo-" then, blessed silence.
Toria looked from brother to brother, and they laughed again. Xander shrugged. "I guess he just doesn't like me."
"He only likes me," Toria said, hugging it.
"Oh brother," David said. He went back to the PSP game that had kept him occupied most of the drive.
Mom raised her eyebrows at Xander and said, "Be nice."
Xander rolled his eyes. He adjusted his shoulders and wiggled his behind, nudging Toria. "It's too cramped back here. It may be an SUV, but it isn't big enough for us anymore."
"Don't start that," his father warned from behind the wheel. He angled the rearview mirror to see his son.
"What?" Xander said, acting innocent.
"I did the same thing with my father," Dad said. "The car's too small ... it uses too much gas ... it's too run down ..."
Xander smiled. "Well, it is."
"And if we get a new car, what should we do with this one?"
"Well ..." Xander said. "you know. It'd be a safe car for me." A ten-year-old Toyota 4Runner wasn't his idea of cool wheels, but it was transportation.
Dad nodded. "Getting you a car is something we can talk about, okay? Let's see how you do."
"I have my driver's permit. You know I'm a good driver."
"He is," Toria chimed in.
David added, "And then he can drive us to school."
"I didn't mean just the driving," Dad said. He paused, catching Xander's eyes in the mirror. "I mean with all of this, the move and everything."
Xander stared out the window again. He mumbled, "Guess I'll never get a car, then."
"Xander?" Dad said. "I didn't hear that."
"He said he'll never get a car," Toria said.
Silence. David's thumbs clicked furiously over the PSP buttons. Xander was aware of his mom watching him. If he looked, her eyes would be all sad-like, and she would be frowning in sympathy for him. He thought maybe his dad was looking too, but only for an opportunity to explain himself again. Xander didn't want to hear it. Nothing his old man said would make this okay, would make ripping him out of his world less awful than it was.
"Dad, is the school's soccer team good? Did they place?" David asked. Xander knew his brother wasn't happy about the move either, but jumping right into the sport he was so obsessed about went a long way toward making the change something he could handle. Maybe Xander was like that three years ago, just rolling with the punches. He couldn't remember. But now he had things in his life David didn't: friends who truly mattered, ones he thought he'd spend the rest of his life with. Little kids didn't think that way. Friends could come and go, and they adjusted. True, Xander had known his current friends for years, but they hadn't become like blood until the last year or so.
That got him thinking about Danielle. He pulled his mobile phone from his shirt pocket and checked it. No text messages from her. No calls. She hadn't replied to the last text he'd sent. He keyed in another: "Forget me already? JK." But he wasn't Just kidding. He knew the score: out of sight, out of mind. She had said all the right things, like We'll talk on the phone all the time; You come down and see me and I'll come up to see you, okay? and I'll wait for you.
Yeah, sure you will, he thought. Even during the past week, he'd sensed a coldness in her, an emotional distancing. When he'd told his best friend, Dean had shrugged. Trying to sound world-wise, he'd said, "Forget her, dude. She's hot. She's gotta move on. You too. Not like you're married, right?" Dean had never liked Danielle.
Xander tried to convince himself she was just another friend he was forced to leave behind. But there was a different kind of ache in his chest when he thought about her. A heavy weight in his stomach.
Stop it! he told himself. He flipped his phone closed.
On his mental list of the reasons to hate the move to Pinedale, he moved on to the one titled "career." He had just started making short films with his buddies and was pretty sure it was something he would eventually do for a living. They weren't much, just short skits he and his friends acted out. He and Dean wrote the scripts, did the filming, used computer software to edit an hour of video into five-minute films, and laid music over them. They had six already on You-Tube-with an average rating of four and a half stars and a boatload of praise. Xander had dreams of getting a short film into the festival circuit, which, of course, would lead to offers to do music videos and commercials, then on to feature movies starring the next Russell Crowe and Jim Carrey, and probably an Oscar. Pasadena was right next to Hollywood, a twenty-minute drive. You couldn't ask for a better place to live if you were the next Steven Spielberg. What on earth would he find to film in Pinedale? Trees, he thought glumly, watching them fly past his window.
Dad, addressing David's soccer concern, said, "We'll talk about it later."
Mom reached through the seat backs to shake Xander's knee. "it'll work out," she whispered.
"Wait a minute," David said, understanding Dad-talk as well as Xander did. "Are you saying they suck-or that they don't have a soccer team? you told me they did!"
"I said 'later,' Dae." his nickname came from Toria's inability as a toddler to say David. She had also called Xander Xan, but it hadn't stuck.
David slumped down in his seat.
Xander let the full extent of his misery show on his face for his mother.
She gave his knee a shake, sharing his misery. She was good that way. "Give it some time," she whispered. "You'll make new friends and find new things to do. Wait and see."
Excerpted from house of dark shadows by Robert Liparulo Copyright © 2008 by Robert Liparulo. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted May 21, 2008
This is the first book in Robert Liparulo's new Young Adult series. What does that mean, 'Young Adult'? Basically it means that the book is shorter. Don't be afraid though, in just 286 pages Liparulo manages to pack in enough creepiness, intrigue, excitement and fun that you'll swear it's a full blown novel. 'Young Adults' and adults alike will find something to love here, as Liparulo proves once again that he's a master of his craft. It's easy to identify with the King family, and anyone who's ever changed houses, schools or cities will be able to empathize with the memorable characters. From Xander's resentment at his parents for moving him away from his friends (and girlfriend) to Ed (the father's) concerns for his new job, it's easy to feel like you know the King Family. The settings are perfect, reading late a night gave me shivers as the creepiness of the King family's new home kicked into overdrive. Simply stated, for the money you can't find a better book for parents and teens alike. Highly recommended.
18 out of 19 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 29, 2009
I haven't seen the Young Adult years in...years, but I can tell you that this series is SCARY even for adults. I finished House of Dark Shadows a little while ago and can testify that it's freakier than Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews and just about as scary as The Amityville Horror. Did I mention this book was scary, LOL? But I finished it. I just didn't read it at night. Seriously. And I'm thankful that my house has neither an attic or a basement or I wouldn't be able to sleep! I know it's just fiction, but while I was reading the story I was in it, so it seemed real to me. Too real. So far I haven't found a spiritual element 'like they didn't even pray when scared' but it's still an incredibly entertaining tale of horror. I dare say it ranks right up there with any number of scary secular novels. There is even some blood in the book. Did I mention it was scary? Bottom line...this is top notch fiction but it is tolerable even for big honking chickens like me. In fact, I want to read the next book right away...but it's dark outside, so that'll have to wait until tomorrow!
12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 8, 2008
Xander King is seriously bummed when his family moves from Pasadena, CA to a little hick town called Pinedale. He loved his life back home and can't imagine what this new town and new school could possibly have to offer. When the King's arrive they begin searching for a house to buy and finally stumble across an old, abandoned Victorian home deep in the woods. Xander's parents instantly fall in love with the old house and set to work trying to make it livable. Xander and his brother, David, begin exploring and make startling discoveries. It seems one of the closets is some sort of gateway to a locker in their new school. If that wasn't strange enough, they also discover a secret passageway that is full of rooms that are portals to other worlds. After a couple of exploring adventures gone bad, the boys soon realize that this house is much more dangerous than they could have ever imagined. Unfortunately, the King's are about to discover just how real that danger is. Robert Liparulo is known for pulse-pounding thrillers. With winners like Comes a Horseman, Germ, and Deadfall under his belt, he has truly left his mark on the genre. Now Liparulo graces his fans with a new young adult series that has everything we've come to expect from him and more. House of Dark Shadows is a fun story that is full of thrills and chills that never feel watered down for the young adult audience. Xander and David's mini adventures and discoveries are laced with just the right amount of action and intrigue to keep you nervously flying through the pages. The house itself is one of the strongest characters in the book, bringing a delightfully creepy tone to this well crafted tale. As always, Liparulo's writing carries deeper meaning beyond the action and thrills. At its heart this story is about the bond of family and love, and the power therein. With every new novel Liparulo continues to prove what an incredible storyteller he is and this new series is no exception. The end will leave you begging for more and loving every moment. This is Robert Liparulo at his best!
9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I don't gush about books very often. I read a lot of young adult novels (even though I'm a "few" birthdays past young), and I have to say this is one of the best I've read. And I'm not alone: My son (who IS the age this book was intended for) grabbed it as soon as I put it down. He has a hard time reading anything, but he read this one in two sittings! He rambled on about it so much, all of his friends are reading it now. <BR/><BR/>The first chapter hooked me. The next few chapters introduce us to the characters, the location and THE HOUSE. I was expecting a typical thriller, all plot, no character development, but thankfully, I was wrong. We really get to know (and love) the characters--through their relationships with each other and their reactions to the crazy, creepy events happening to them and around them.<BR/><BR/>I truly loved the development of the story, like a storm coming in: first it gets cold, then a little rainy, then BOOM! By the time the REAL action starts (what the house is all about!) I was totally there, I was one of the King family. That says a lot for this author's ability to write description and characters. <BR/><BR/>Speaking of BOOM!, this house is fantastic, in every sense of the word. It's creepy and spooky and leads to all kinds of adventures. It's not JUST a dark, foreboding house, with things that go bump in the night. It's a door into history, a time-warping slingshot to different places and times. The possibilities are endless--and very rewarding.<BR/><BR/>After finishing this one, I immediately read "Watcher in the Woods," the second book in the series (how can you not?), and it's even better than the first (but read "House of Dark Shadows" first). It has a lot more action and the introduction of an incredible villain. I can't wait for the third installment to find out more about him, and how the Kings handle all the chaos thrown at them!<BR/><BR/>I like the way Liparulo paints every scene. You can almost SMELL the house decaying around them. I found myself squinting at the page, as the characters squinted into dark, shadowy rooms. It felt like I was watching a movie, not reading a book. He knows how to give readers the heebie-jeebies, and also knows something a lot of writers of this kind of story (a chiller) don't seem to know: that we have to CARE about the characters to care about what HAPPENS to them.<BR/><BR/>If you're looking for a thoroughly entertaining story for kid (maybe ten-years-old to late teens) or even for yourself, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. It's really a lot of fun.
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 3, 2012
This book is a really awesome. Its a good book for 10-12 year olds. Me and my friend loved these books, there are 6 series to this book. It gets sad at the end of this book bit gets a lot better through out the series. Hope u like it too!!!!!!!
3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This book (and the rest of the series) are, to say the least, books that were added immediately to my list of favorite books even before turning the last page. The back cover shows you a glimpse of the world inside its pages, and it almost draws you in. (Like the portals! ;D) I've got to say each book just seems to get better and better. I actually hesitated a bit when I bought it, though, because I had seen a similar back cover for the book 100 Cupboards. I didn't hesitate because I thought it would be identical, I hesitated because I did not think 100 Cupboards lived up to the wonders the preview told you you would experience. I didn't want another book like that. But I bought House of Dark Shadows anyway, and I was so very glad that I did! I finished it in one day, unable to put it down. And then I fled my house the next day as though it was the King's "Dreamhouse" to buy the next one. I've already shared it with around five of my friends, and they all are rushing to the store asap to buy it themselves.
So if you are at the bookstore and see this, please don't pass it by, trust me, you'll be doing yourself a favor!
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 6, 2010
i love this series! every single book in this series is filled with action and suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat practically gluing your eyes to the page! i was so absorbed in this book! i read all of them in like two days! everything about this series is just-WOW!!!! :) i love it and it keeps you wanting to read more!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2013
Posted September 5, 2012
This book is absolutely amazing. It is not for the faint of heart! If you love creepy and mysterious, its the book for u.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2011
In the House of Dark Shadows, RObert Liparulo tells a tragic, suspenseful, amazing story about a family who moves to a creepy Victorian house and they see and hear things that shouldn't be there.
Fifteen-year old Xander is devastated when he moves from L.A. to Pinedale. Xandder and his family find and old Victorian house that needs to be fixed up. Xander and his little brother David starts seeing and hearing things. There little sister Toria thinks its big foot? Xander and David find portals to other times, like Xander finds himself in the Roman Coliseum fighting a vicious gladiator and David in a safari running from three tiges. Then Toria wakes up screaming in the middle of the night saying she saw a big hairy man in her door way and it says something she doesnt understand. Her bear (Wuzzy),a bear that records sounds, captures the voice Toria heard "Sas ehei na erthete na paiksei." Their father knows something his children and wife doesn't know. When Xander's father tells him he is furious, upset, and crushed. You can feel the tension Xander has. Xander starts to feel hatred for his father, but he still loves him.
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Posted November 17, 2011
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Posted August 30, 2013
Accidentally read the second book in this series first and was so in love, had to start at the beginning. This is a great series for adults as well as teens. Great for those who love mystery and historical fiction. Would highly recommend.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 12, 2013
Posted July 12, 2013