Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “House of Secrets (House of Secrets, #1)” as Want to Read:
House of Secrets (House of Secrets, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

House of Secrets

(House of Secrets #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  11,091 ratings  ·  1,053 reviews
From legendary Hollywood director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and bestselling author Ned Vizzini (It's Kind of a Funny Story) comes this first book in an epic new fantasy series.

Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker once had everything: two loving parents, a beautiful house in San Francisco, and all the
Hardcover, 490 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by Balzer + Bray
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,091 ratings  ·  1,053 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of House of Secrets (House of Secrets, #1)
Mohammed Arabey
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
"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."

That's how J.K.Rowling describe the book in the back cover...and That's how she ruined for me an opportunity to express my feeling about the book...
I believe anyone read it will think about the same lines to describe the experience of living with the Walkers family in t
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
J.K. Rowling put a "blurb" for this book as being a "breakneck roller coaster of an adventure." Sadly, roller coasters make me very seasick, and this book left me feeling much the same way.

Chris Columbus directed the first two Harry Potter films, and is now helming the Percy Jackson films, so I'm sure he loves the world of fantasy and adventure.

However, this first book in the "House of Secrets" series is just WAY too busy and frenetic. He throws in everything but the kitchen sink, and in so doin
Darth J
Aug 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
Pre-read reaction:


Post-read review:
Wow, it’s official: Chris Columbus has lost his touch. The man responsible for directing some of the best family movies now has no idea how to appeal to children in an intelligent or original manner anymore. He should honestly just stick to producing instead of writing or directing. The well is dry; the magic is dead. He’s a muggle now.

First of all, this book reads like an unhip dad who is trying too hard to seem cool to his kid
Kat Heckenbach
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I gave up about 2/3 of the way through. There was potential for this story, but it never got off the ground. There was no real plot once the kids got trapped in the books' stories--they just went from one tight squeeze to another with no actual progress. The characters were just barely fleshed out enough for me to care about them at all, but after a while the lack of plot made even that go away.

One of my biggest complaints was little Eleanor. While I liked her, she was completely unrealistic. An
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Enter to win House Of Secrets on my blog!
"Sometimes you can't get your life back. Sometimes you have to take it back."

I have been a fan of Ned Vizzini ever since I read It's Kind Of A Funny Story a couple years ago (If you haven't read this book yet, what are you waiting for? Stop reading this review immediately and get It's Kind Of A Funny Story. I know you'll thank me later). I have read everything by Vizzini except for Teen Angst? Naaah . . . which I need to read pronto. I even interview
Niahara Erskine
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love reading Middle Grade novel. I think these books are the ones that you can enjoy and cherish no matter how old you are. There is a feeling of innocence surrounding a good MG novel that always leaves me giddy. As a result, taking into account my fondness for MG novels, I was looking forward to reading Ned Vizzini and Chris Columbus's "House of Secrets". The description and cover alone were enough to make me curious about the book. I can definitely say I was not disappointed. The book is ver ...more
Becky B
May 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
The Walker kids are trying to make the best of their situation. They have to move into a cheaper place because their dad lost his surgeon position due to an incident, involving sleepwalking and carving strange symbols into the skin of a patient. But the new house looks way too cool for the asking price. It's an old mansion and comes complete with cool furnishings. The family thinks it is too good to be true. It turns out, they may be right. After they move in the old lady who lives next door goe ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Alright, audiobook reviews can be sort of tricky to review, since the experience can be so different from reviewing a print book. I notice such different things and don't tend to remember super specific details as well. I'm going to try borrowing (with approval, of course) April of Good Books and Good Wine's format she's been using lately.

Why Did I Read This Book?
Okay, this may not reflect particularly well on me as a person, but the allure was equal parts the famous name and the awesome cover.
Jillian -always aspiring-
J.K. Rowling gave a blurb for this book (and she rarely does that), so I must give it a fair chance!
Laura Martinelli
I need to explain my feelings on Chris Columbus before I get to the review proper. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, he directed the first two Harry Potter movies (and Percy Jackson, and Home Alone and Rent. I have many feelings about that last one). I also personally consider the first two Potters as being the worst of the films; they’re relatively faithful adaptations but boring movies. IMO, Columbus doesn’t bring a great visionary style and lacks the ‘magic’ touch, if you will. So, w ...more
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun and great for kids
Xander ForeverBookish
The Walker family is in a situation. Dr. Walker, the dad lost his job after cutting an eye shape into a patient's chest with a knife at his hospital. Now they live in a small apartment, and are looking for a house. They find the huge Kristoff House, over-looking the Golden Gate Bridge, built after the San Francisco earthquake by Denver Kristoff, a well-known author. They move in, and they are in the middle of dinner when a woman knocks on the door that claims she is their neighbor. She then turn ...more
Barb Middleton
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Do you like stories that invoke vivid images in your mind while you’re reading?

If so, you’ll probably enjoy reading House of Secrets.

While the story has its funny, wild and untamed moments, House of Secrets is certainly not a cute, feel-good type of middle-grade fantasy. In the story, we have Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker – the children of two loving parents who are desperately trying to get themselves out of a tough financial situation. When the real estate agent finds them a home that
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
What can I say? I hoped for more. I requested this book with the hope of finding a good follow-up to The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini (I loved it as do many of my students). This title came to our attention and I volunteered to read it. I read the summary. I knew the book was not going to be a perfect match, but I hoped that the tone, the style, and the characterization would be similar enough to recommend to my Other Normals groupies. Not so. But that was OK, because I was happy enough to read ...more
John Hedrick
I only made it through the beginning of chapter 12.

This story just never took off for me. There was a lot of telling where there could have been showing. Also, the appearance (and recurrence) of the phrase "before the incident" really bugged me. It was as if the authors thought there was a need to wave a huge flag saying, "There's a BIG secret coming! We're not going to tell you what it is, but we wanted to you know it was coming so you'll keep reading!"

I think the last straw for me was when som
Aug 21, 2013 marked it as unfinished
I could've gotten through this book, but I doubt it would've been worth it. The POV was constantly rotating between the three protagonist-children, all of whom were shallow, irritating, and development-less from the very beginning.

As I abandoned it before anything much began to happen, it might be an interesting book story-wise. I simply didn't see a point in wading through the viewpoint ping-pong among unsympathetic tritagonists.
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
I also wanted to really like this book. The amount of violence (much of it described in graphic detail) experienced by these three children may make for a great action scene in a movie, but here merely seemed inappropriate and out-of-touch with the intended audience. I really wanted to give it one star.
Graeme Reynolds
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
When Brendan, Cordelia and Nell are forced to move to Kristoff House in San Francisco with their parents, they are less than happy. However things are about to get much worse. Before the family have time to order in a takeaway pizza, let alone unpack, they are attacked by a crazed witch who transports the children and the house to a magical world where they must search for a book of terrible power. If they fail, they will never see their parents again, however retrieving the book will mean that ...more
Savannah Andrea Smith
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
It's funny how the books that I love the most, I don't really put a lot of thought into before buying. I stumbled upon this book while grocery shopping with my dad at Sam's Club and convinced him (after reading the JK Rowling blurb and the synopsis, I was pretty sure this would be a fun read) I needed another book. And that was it. It was cool-looking, but I didn't exactly do any research on it before tossing it in the shopping cart next to the frozen Barramundi and family-pack of broccoli.

Mike (the Paladin)
I have read quite a number of YA fantasies. They run the gamut from "wow really great" to "crap why did I ever start this?". This book is.....firmly in the gray area. "Ahhhh, it's okay".

I don't want to give the book 2 stars as I tend to think of that as the beginning of "negative numbers" but while I didn't dislike this book, I was never enthused about it.

The story telling is "cute" we get the talk of the "incident" throughout the book. We get the (view spoiler) and
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The House of Secrets follows 3 siblings, Cordelia, Brendan and Eleanor Walker as they move into a new house with their parents. The Kristoff House is much more than it first seems. Dark magic is soon unleashed, taking the Walker children on an epic adventure, filled with warriors, giants, pirates and a mad witch.
I will admit I brought this book purely because Chris Columbus directed Harry Potter and it was blurbed by J.K Rowling. I am glad I did though. The book was action-packed and fast paced
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved loved loved this book! It may be middle grade but it is still one of my favourite books of all time
Sally Kruger
There has been an incident and the Walker family must relocate. The realtor is about to show them the Kristoff House in an area known as Sea Cliff. Since moving is the last thing the children Cordelia, Brendan, and Eleanor want, they are suspicious when the realtor gushes about how fabulous this house is.

Sea Cliff is no joke. Kristoff House is balanced precariously on a cliff with portions of the structure supported by stilts and something described as "earthquake" barrels. The family is promise
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: hooray-i-won
There are some middle grade books that appeal to all ages, and there are some that are meant more strictly for the middle grade years. I had a really hard time rating this book, I kept going between 3 and 5 stars. I know, that is one biiiig gap! the thing is that for me, this book is 3 stars, but if I were rating it for 10-14 year olds, it would definitely be worth 5 stars! Considering that that is the books target market, that is pretty damn good. House Of Secrets is filled with adventure, quic ...more
Kim McGee
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
House of Secrets is going to be the next big thing because it has everything that kids and adults would want in a fantasy series - pirates, evil witches, a giant, a dashing British fighter pilot, knights, precocious children, earthquakes and tons of magic. From the first page Chris Columbus (director of Harry Potter fame) and Ned Vizzini (young adult author) work their magic and introduce us to a special house set just beyond San Francisco. A house with a terrible secret and one that the three W ...more
2.5 stars

I disliked how disjointed this book felt in the first half. Things started to get better once Will was introduced to the story. I'm not sure if I would read the sequel or not. It's definitely far from the best middle grade books I ever read, but it wasn't all bad either.
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was very cool.
The blurb of the book says that when 'Brendan, Cordelia and Nell move to Kristoff House they have no idea that they are about to unleash the dark magic within.' I am thinking that this could be a lot of fun as there are 'deadly pirates, bloodthirsty warriors, and a bone-crushing giant.' It is sounding like this could be a fun read.

I have to come to the end and I have to be honest I was disappointed with this novel. The story is as the covers boasts 'a breakneck, jam-packed, roller coaster of an
May 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Storybound (Storybound #1)
  • The Lost Track of Time
  • The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1)
  • The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes, #1)
  • Nooks & Crannies
  • Kroniki Jaaru. Księga luster (Kroniki Jaaru, #1)
  • Winterling (Winterling, #1)
  • The Chaos Curse (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #3)
  • The Colossus Rises (Seven Wonders, #1)
  • A Grimm Warning (The Land of Stories, #3)
  • Loki's Wolves (The Blackwell Pages, #1)
  • Dragon Curse (The Unwanteds Quests, #4)
  • Story's End (Storybound, #2)
  • The Enchantress Returns (The Land of Stories, #2)
  • Going Wild (Going Wild #1)
  • Clash of Beasts (Going Wild #3)
  • Prefa-te ca ma iubesti (Prefă-te că mă iubești #1)
  • Incearcă să-mi reziști (Prefă-te că mă iubești #2)
See similar books…
Chris Joseph Columbus is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Columbus is known for such movies as Gremlins, The Goonies, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Home Alone, the last receiving a British Comedy Award for Best Comedy Film.

Other books in the series

House of Secrets (3 books)
  • Battle of the Beasts (House of Secrets, #2)
  • Clash of the Worlds (House of Secrets, #3)

Related Articles

The prolific and beloved author John Grisham, known for his courtroom thrillers, is back this month with a new pageturner, A Time for Mercy,...
37 likes · 7 comments
“Losing yourself in a book is the best” 13 likes
“Books lay on the floor in literary dunes.” 12 likes
More quotes…