#316 – House of Secrets #1 by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini


House of Secrets

by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini

Greg Call, illustratologo_123377_web (3)

Balzer + Bray

6 Stars

Book Brochure:  Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker once had everything: two loving parents, a beautiful house in San Francisco, and all the portable electronic devices they could want.  But everything changed when Dr. Walker lost his job in the wake of a mysterious incident.  Now in dire straits, the family must relocate to an old Victorian house that used to be the home of occult novelist Denver Kristoff—a house that feels simultaneously creepy and too good to be true.  A visit from their evil neighbor, Denver’ Kristoff’s daughter, transports the house and the children in it to a world inhabited by medieval savages patrolling the forests, ghostly pirates sailing the seas, and an evil queen who rules the land.  The key to getting home may lie in their connection to a 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.

First Sentence:  Brendan Walker knew the house was going to be terrible.


Three siblings Eleanor age eight, Brendan age 12, and Cordelia age 16,  find their life downsized after their physician father loses his job because of a strange incident.  They move into an old Victorian house that once belonged to Denver Kristoff, a prolific writer and occult enthusiast.   The house is a bit odd—Brendan sees an aberration on day one—but the loving family digs in to stay afloat.  Then their neighbor arrives, throws a physical tantrum twisting everything in the house, killing the parents, and sending the children on an adventure to find the one book Kristoff has hidden from his daughter, Dahlia, the neighbor next-door.

Thrown into the plot of an evil witch with delusions of grandeur, three children must find their way back home to parents who may not be alive.  The Wind Witch will stop at nothing to get what she wants and to say she goes to great lengths is an understatement.  Kristoff hides the book, called The Book of Doom and Desire, with a spell attached, to keep his daughter from touching it or using its powers.  Thus far, the hiding place has been elusive and this is driving the witch—aka Wind Witch, aka Dahlia—nearly mad.

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.  While trying to find The Book of Doom and  Desire and return home, the kids must face characters ready to kill them.  To find the book, one of the children must become extremely, hardcore selfish and act in their own interest rather than the family’s

Once thrown into the witch’s plan, the kids must fight for their lives on several occasions, watch utter destruction occur all around them, and be brave as they encounter villains of every degree of malice.  An ace fighter pilot from World War 2 literally falls into the first book just in time to save the children from the medieval henchmen working for the evil queen  who rules this strange literary land.



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.  When the kids enter into one of the witch’s predicaments, it can be scary considering how the book characters act.  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.

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 500 pages will zoom by, as you cannot resist turning page after page.  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!


House of Secrets

by Chris Columbus    website    blog    facebook    twitter
& Ned Vizzini    website    blog    facebook    twitter
Greg Call, illustrator    representative    blog    facebook    twitter
Balzer + Bray       website    blog    facebook    twitter
Released April 23, 2013
ISBN:  978-0-06-219246-2
eBook:  978-06-219248-6
Available as a downloadable audio book.
496 Pages
Ages: 8 to 12
Text:  Copyright © 2013 by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini
Illustrations:  Copyright © 2013 by Greg Call



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12 thoughts on “#316 – House of Secrets #1 by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini

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    • This is going to be one of the biggest books of 2013. Just who the authors are will push this up the charts. 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!


    • It is not as scary as it sounds. It is more weird than anything. I do not like scary anything and I really enjoyed this book. I cannot wait for book two to make its way to me. I think you might like it.


    • This is not as scary as the cover may look. It is imaginative. I have not yet read Magic Treehouse but I am sure you may be right about this one being a bit haywire. Still a good read. And I hate horror stuff, so I would not read this if it were horror or really scary.


    • Hello Bruce. Long time no see. Where have you been hanging out. Get it? Hanging out? Oh, wait, you are a gargoyle not a bat. So, on what church . . . oh, never mind. 🙂

      Nice to see you again. I am very glad you are here. This book, House of Secrets, is going to be one of the best for 2013. Chris Columbus is usually busy making movies, but he took time to co-write this series with the fantastic Ned Vizzini (he asked me to write that — just kidding),. I hope it is then made into a movie, but I doubt even Columbus could do this series justice on the screen. They do a marvelous job in print.


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