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House of Secrets

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Overview

Hailed as “a breakneck, jam-packed roller coaster of an adventure” by J. K. Rowling, this New York Times bestseller is the first installment in the explosive tween fantasy series by famed Hollywood director Chris Columbus (of Harry Potter fame) and bestselling author Ned Vizzini (It’s Kind of a Funny Story).

Siblings Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker once had everything they could ever want. But everything changed when Dr. Walker lost his job. Now the family must relocate to...

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House of Secrets

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Overview

Hailed as “a breakneck, jam-packed roller coaster of an adventure” by J. K. Rowling, this New York Times bestseller is the first installment in the explosive tween fantasy series by famed Hollywood director Chris Columbus (of Harry Potter fame) and bestselling author Ned Vizzini (It’s Kind of a Funny Story).

Siblings Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker once had everything they could ever want. But everything changed when Dr. Walker lost his job. Now the family must relocate to an old Victorian house, formerly the home of occult novelist Denver Kristoff—a house that simultaneously feels creepy and too good to be true. By the time the Walkers realize that one of their neighbors has sinister plans for them, they’re banished to a primeval forest way off the grid.

Bloodthirsty medieval warriors patrol the woods around them, supernatural pirates roam the neighboring seas, and a power-hungry queen rules the land. To survive, the siblings will have to be braver than they ever thought possible—and to fight against their darkest impulses. The key may lie in their own connection to the secret Kristoff legacy. But as they unravel that legacy, they’ll discover that it’s not just their family that’s in danger . . . it’s the entire world.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

If the authors' names sound familiar, it is not just because one of them possesses deep historical resonance. This Chris Columbus is, of course, the Hollywood director responsible for the first two Harry Potter films and Home Alone and his co-author Ned Vizzini is the brains behind It's Kind of a Funny Story and Teen Angst. This new series starter introduces us to the Walkers, a once flourishing family who are forced by hard times to relocate to a decrepit Victorian house. For the three Walker children, this exile marks however only the beginning of their troubles: Their parents and friends disappear; their neighbors are planning dark things; and the supernatural seems to be running rampant. A festering nest of occult adventures pregnant with possibilities. Editor's recommendation.

J.K. Rowling
“A breakneck, jam-packed roller coaster of an adventure about the secret power of books, HOUSE OF SECRETS comes complete with three resourceful sibling heroes, a seriously creepy villainess, and barrel loads of fantasy and fear.”
ALA Booklist
“A swift-paced…clever page-turner for any reader who has wanted to take part in literary adventures … This story is compelling, great fun, and sure to be popular.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The story is an engrossing page-turner with a parade of near-escapes, hilarious mishaps, and courageous face-offs with terrifying villains. The nonstop action will keep readers on the edge of their seats”
Publishers Weekly
In a rousing adventure reminiscent of The Emerald Atlas, director Columbus (The Help) and author Vizzini (The Other Normals) catapult a trio of siblings across time and space, as they square off against a forgotten writer’s literary legacy. When eight-year-old Eleanor, 12-year-old Brendan, and 15-year-old Cordelia Walker move with their parents into the ancient, eerie Kristoff House, they instantly suspect something’s not right. Then they’re attacked by the Wind Witch, their parents go missing, and the entire house is thrust into a bizarre conglomeration of settings taken from the works of Denver Kristoff, a prolific early 20th-century author. Seeking a missing book of immense power, the siblings battle warriors, giants, pirates, and skeletons to get home again. The nonstop action comes with increasingly high stakes, various scenarios paying homage to the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. The kitchen sink aspect of the plot gives the story a somewhat crowded, frenetic feel, but the deft characterizations and wildly imaginative concept more than make up for it. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 9–up. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, William Morris Endeavor. (May)
Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
The Walker children have no idea what they are in for when their parents purchase the mysteriously affordable Kristoff House. The house of late author Denver Kristoff is creepy and strangely beautiful, and the children cannot wait to explore. Not long after getting settled in, however, a meddling neighbor turns into The Wind Witch and sets off a stream of events that leave them (and the house) trapped inside one of Kristoff's books, filled with obnoxiously large bugs, menacing killers, pirates, and a World War I pilot! Together Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker must find a way to defeat the Wind Witch, save their parents, and return to the modern world. With a promising cover and a tale reminiscent of Lemony Snicket and Narnia, it would seem that this new series would have an immediate following. The story itself is a captivating adventure; however, the story lines are a bit loose and may be trying to appeal to too large an age group. Those looking to recommend this new series be advised that it has a bit of a slow beginning that might deter the struggling reader that would most appreciate this book. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Brendan, Cordelia, and Eleanor Walker are dragged by their parents to look at houses in San Francisco. Their father, a doctor, has lost his job due to an incident at the hospital, and the family has to downsize. The Kristoff House overlooking the bay seems to be too good to be true for the money, but, surprisingly, their father buys it. Once the family moves in, all kinds of strange things start to happen. It turns out that there is bad blood between a former owner of the house, Denver Kristoff, and an ancestor of the Walkers. Kristoff's daughter is now the Wind Witch, and she has enticed the family to the home so that she can get hold of The Book of Doom and Desire, which she plans to use as her vehicle to rule the world. To accomplish this, the witch incapacitates the parents and sends the children into the books her father created in the hope that they will help her retrieve the magical tome she desires. Along the way the youngsters meet many of Kristoff's characters, some of whom help them and others who try to annihilate them. The setup of the story drags a bit, but once the siblings leave contemporary San Francisco for the magical world of the Wind Witch, the pace picks up. The young Walkers are plucky, quick thinkers whom readers will grow to love. With a new adventure that seems to arrive with every chapter, the story unfolds quickly, thus keeping kids hooked and wanting to find out what will happen next.—Elizabeth Kahn, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, Jefferson, LA
Kirkus Reviews
Columbus and Vizzini craft a fast-moving, cinematic narrative that packs plenty of punch but may still have trouble measuring up to the competition. The plot is predictable yet peculiar. Three kids lose their parents suddenly--and horribly--before being thrust into a series of manic adventures. The action ping-pongs wildly from a primeval forest peopled by savage warriors to the high seas, festooned with murderous pirates and hungry sharks, to a medieval-style castle ruled by a vicious queen. The children are cardboard characters at best: Cordelia, the brainy, bookish oldest sister; Brendan, the hyperactive, game- and sport-obsessed 14-year-old brother; 8-year-old Eleanor, spunky and sweet with a learning disability thrown in for spice (and plot potential). Secondary characters are even more sketchily drawn, which suits perfectly in some cases but weakens their impact in others. The text often reads like a script, providing direction rather than description. Some details seem gratuitously gross and/or violent, and the dialogue doesn't always ring true. Worst of all, how the authors get their heroes out of trouble and back to the real world seems anticlimactic and, even within the fantastic framework of the story, not entirely believable. Ending with the promise (or threat) of further adventures, this is clearly intended to be the next big thing--whether it fulfills that ambition remains to be seen. (Fantasy. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062192479
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 114,938
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Columbus has written, directed, and produced some of the most successful box-office hits in Hollywood history. He first made his name by writing several original scripts produced by Steven Spielberg, including the back-to-back hits Gremlins and The Goonies. As a director, Columbus has been at the helm of such iconic projects as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Home Alone, Stepmom, and Mrs. Doubtfire. As a producer, Columbus was also behind the hit films Night at the Museum and The Help.

Ned Vizzini (1981-2013) began writing for the New York Press at the age of fifteen. At seventeen, he was asked to write a piece for the New York Times Magazine, and at nineteen, he published Teen Angst? Naaah..., his autobiography of his years at Stuyvesant High School. His debut teen novel, Be More Chill, was selected for the Today Show Book Club by Judy Blume. It's Kind of a Funny Story, a cult classic, was adapted into a 2010 film starring Zach Galifianakis and named one of the 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels by National Public Radio. The Other Normals, his third novel, was a Junior Library Guild selection. He was the co-author, with Chris Columbus, of the New York Times bestselling fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets. He wrote for the New Yorker and Salon. He also wrote for television, including MTV's hit show Teen Wolf. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 45 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(30)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2013

    Its very scary (for me) spolier kinda

    Im 10 and i read middle school books . I found a jackpot when i saw this book . It looked interesting so i bought . 3 bucks is cheep man , for a book that sounded this girl . But child eating queen ? Horse Eating Knights ? Surgery with gores and walking skeltons . If i wouldve known i might not have gotton this book . - Tabitha Owlshade - pre-teen book reviewer

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    I found this book to be very interesting, but was shocked to see

    I found this book to be very interesting, but was shocked to see it posted for younger children. I feel that there are many words that a 12 year old would not understand and situations that some younger kids may not be ready for, *spoiler* dissecting people for fun in maniacal ways. I feel the book is more for an age group of 15 and up or a more mature kid. Some things may be scary for younger readers. I think the book has a lot of good twists and turns that one would never expect in a children's book and believe there will be a good squeal. Strongly suggest parents of children under 15 pre-read, due to political, religious views. On another note ,this book is a quick fun read for adults.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2013

    Beyond Awesome!!

    I LOVE THIS BOOK!! It is so exciting and each chapter is a cliff hanger! Good read!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2013

    Good Read

    This is a fun read and Columbus and Vizzini have written it for special effects in a movie. My only issue is that the Fact that the characters are brother and sisters and will not be able to provide the depth that we saw created by the friendships in the Harry Potter series

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013

    Must read

    Loved it! Full of nonstop adventure

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2013

    A book for 12 year olds....

    If you are over 12 - this isn' for you.

    2 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    While the premise is interesting and the characters not detestab

    While the premise is interesting and the characters not detestable, over all House of Secrets was just too over the top. It reads like it was specifically written for kids who hate reading and have ADHD- so much action it's manic.  And even if you can suspend belief enough to get into the story there is the completely unrealistic children. Spoiler alert:  What eight year old would get stabbed in the shoulder and 
    get back up and fight pirates? Which brings me to my main objection to the book, the violence. If you have an older kid who is jaded and 
    you don't mind them reading about torture, murder, and violence of other types then they may enjoy this read. Otherwise I recommend a pre-read by parents. 

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Magic Tree House meets Harry Potter in Chris Columbus's literary

    Magic Tree House meets Harry Potter in Chris Columbus's literary debut, which just so happens to be co-written by one of my favorite YA authors, Ned Vizzini. Both Columbus and Vizzini contribute immensely to the story; House of Secrets is swash-buckling action and magical diversion blended with humor and real-life dilemmas that made us fall in love with both authors' works in the first place.

    The premise of the eerie Kristoff storybooks coming to life is thrilling and enchanting. I love the fantastical elements including pirates, monsters, and a very wicked witch that each find their way to wreak havoc in the Walker children's lives. This novel is suspenseful and thoughtful to its core, and watching the Walkers grow and face their fears was a wonderful, highly illuminating experience.

    Since this book is targeted for younger teenage readers, there are some aspects that I found a bit childish. For instance, the ending is really quick and insta-happy; I would have liked to see a little more struggle—or at least a little more excitement—in the tangled plot's solution. Our three main characters, Cordelia, Brendan, and Eleanor, are likable, but hardly relatable; they tend to bicker amongst themselves a lot (annoying, but not unrealistic) and afterwards almost immediately come to sappy reconciliation (annoying, and very unrealistic).

    As expected from a middle-grade novel, House of Secrets moves very quickly and easily, and has a predictable, victorious flourish of an ending. All the while, I was happy to see darker, more serious undertones plague the situation in which three otherwise unworldly children from our much too comfortable day and age find themselves. The gravity isn't too harsh, and there's always a lesson at the end, so in prevalent Lemony Snicket-esque gloom, I am confident middle-age readers will delight.

    Pros: Original premise // Comical // Imaginative cast of fantasy characters introduced // Light, but doesn't skimp on values // Fast-paced // Funny, well-balanced protagonists // Cliffhanger ending 

    Cons: No real climax // A bit disorienting... nothing in particular stands out because the story is just a jumble of random events that lead up to a disappointing final "battle" // Idealistic, predictable ending

    Verdict: House of Secrets is a rip-roaring, action-packed, child-approvable ride of a novel that still contains sentiments on courage and on the importance of family. Recommended for children ages 9-12, Columbus and Vizzini's adventure-packed collaboration will teach, entertain, and be a hit among young readers, as well as encourage them to believe in the sheer power—and magic—of the written word.

    Rating: 7 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): Not perfect, but overall enjoyable.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2013

    Should I or Should I Not?

    Should i get this book? It has good reviews and comments. Hmmm, i think i-ahhhhhhhhh idk! Oh well i think about it. I hHAVE NOT RED THEa BOoK ok

    1 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2014

    The House of Secrets book is one of the worst books i've ever re

    The House of Secrets book is one of the worst books i've ever read. The plot and the storyline was not grasping at all.  I was at the verge of putting down the book. The characters are not as interesting as you would think.The way the characters acted were predictable from the beginning to the end. You have the eldest, overpowering, annoying older sister named Cordelia Walker . You have the younger more “mature” ,smart brother which is our main character named Brendan Walker. Last you have the youngest baby sister named Elinor Walker that is as cute as anything and helps you think positive all the time.Finally you have the Happy go lucky parents Dr.walker and Mrs.Walker.In the end asusal all of that changes the family becomes more aware and there bond is more compact . they also meet new characters like the wind Which,Will,Captain Sangray,Hynde and so much more. the characters throughout the book are not easy to grasp onto and care about except for Elinor who is my favorite. The House of Secrets book is not so bad that i would want to throw it out and burn it . The book had its moments where i disliked it but overall i would recommend this book for a fast paced reader.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2014

    Bobo

    HATE IT!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    Love it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2014

    Get this book!

    I am on pg.100 and I can not stop reading it. If you love mystery then read this.book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    I love it!

    This book is so exciting! It really is a "break neck rollercoaster
    of an adventure!",Discribed by J.K. Rowling.

    I got really intreagued in the story on page 32.


    I think you should buy it, it's really worth it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2014

    Full disclosure here: I'm a mom. My daughter picked this book o

    Full disclosure here: I'm a mom. My daughter picked this book out to read, and I read it first. I'm going to tell her that she probably should NOT read it. Vivisection does not belong in any book, but certainly not in a children's book. The skeletons were a bit over the top too, but at least they were magical, which seems to make things a little less personal and real. But then we find out how they bacame skeletons and it was just too aweful. I would not reccomend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    This book is awesome

    I LOVE THIS BOOK THERE IS SO MUCH ADVENTURE I RECAMEND IT FOR EVERY ONE!!!!!!<><

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2014

    Great

    Great book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    Havent read it hav a few questiond though

    I have read pros and cins on this book is it anything like Harry Potter or Kingdok Keepers? I was just wondering uf it was wirth $7.99 because i fiun it in the realted titles for kingdom keepers. Please awnser an what age would this be okay for? Thanks

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  • Posted March 1, 2014

    Harry Potter it is not... Really wanted to enjoy this book but

    Harry Potter it is not...

    Really wanted to enjoy this book but found the multiple twists difficult to sift through and my attention waned. Couldn't wait to finish - and not in a good way

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2014

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews

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