Tuesday, January 13, 2009

House of Dark Shadows- Robert Liparulo

After teaching middle school for a number of years, I had had my fill of YA lit. This book peaked my interest however. Good thrillers and mysteries are hard to come by in the YA world, so I thought I would give it a shot. And overall, it was pretty good.

Xander King is quite unhappy that his family is moving away from his life in Pasadena for his father's job in a small town in northern California. His two younger siblings, David and Toria (short for Victoria) are less bothered, but the whole family is finally excited for the move when they find an interesting old Victorian house on the outskirts of town. Xander thinks that the house is strange; he gets the feeling that he is being watched and the house plays strange tricks with noises.

As the family begins to settle in Xander and David explore the house. At first they don't find anything interesting, old boxes and lots of junk from the previous family, but then they see a strange figure in the night and following it they find a hidden hallway full of doors. The doors lead to antechambers full of different kinds of gear, for the beach, mountain climbing, hunting, all hanging on pegs with another door leading to who knows where. What Xander and David encounter beyond these doors will forever change their lives and the lives of all of their family.

I thought this book was okay. It had a lot of pop culture references, which felt a little cumbersome at times and when the action got going, I found myself skipping chunks because the description detracted from the action. The storyline was really interesting though and I liked that the father was involved, not the absent from adventure parents that one normally sees in YA lit. I felt like the ending was a definite cliffhanger, which was fine since it's a series. I think that there's a lot still to be written for this plot, but I'm a little afraid that it will be drug on too long. I suppose we'll have to see. Though it was scary/thrilling in parts, I think that younger kids could get into it. Probably great for ages 12 and up. I liked the short chapters too, and think it would also make a good read aloud for a teacher. Overall, it was pretty good. Not fantastic, but interesting and kept me turning the pages.

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