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House of Secrets

(House of Secrets #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  10,348 ratings  ·  997 reviews
When Brendan, Cordelia and Nell move to Kristoff House they have no idea that they are about to unleash the dark magic locked within.

Now the Walker kids must battle against deadly pirates, bloodthirsty warriors and a bone-crunching giant. If they fail they will never see their parents again and a crazed witch will take over the world.

No pressure the
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published April 25th 2013 by Harper Collins Children's Books (first published April 23rd 2013)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,348 ratings  ·  997 reviews

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Mohammed Arabey
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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 tclass="gr-hostedUserImg">"A
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
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 kitc
Darth J
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.
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 kids wrote it. How the kids talk and what cultural references and technology they use are outdated by the time this book was published (2013).

Secondly, the plot is made of up random events that are loosely linked together. I know Columbus is a director, but this book feels like a bunch of discarded action storyboards were tossed together in the hopes of this being adapted into a film one day. I’m sure some of the scenes would be exciting on the screen, but it’s honestly not good storytelling to have something so fragmented put on page just because it might look good as a movie. It is a story about pirates? Castles? Haunted houses? Giants? World War I? I can't tell you because the book doesn't even know what it wants to be; the story is so all over the map that it's schizophrenic in its scope.

Thirdly, the whole premise is hackneyed. It’s like someone threw The Neverending Story, Jumanji and some Goosebumps books into a blender. It honestly could have been enjoyable if the writing was good or believable, but it isn’t. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors, just poor prose and lame attempts to pander to children.

Fourth, the villain was some cross between Voldemort and a Weeping Angel. Her powers were supposed to be wind-based (hence her name: the Wind Witch) but she could do all sorts of other things. When there are no boundaries to the world and characters you create, you write yourself into a corner. Why does she even have wings if she can teleport?? It made zero sense that she could hurl lightning from her hand, and yet when it came back to her it destroyed her hand. What the what? That's like a dragon being burned by the same fire they just spat. #plothole

Also, let’s not forget that J.K. Rowling is shilling this book. Take a closer look at her blurb though; she doesn’t actually say that this is a good book at all but allows us to infer that is what she’s saying: “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.” Really Jo, you gonna do me like this?! After all we’ve been through you pull a fast one on us because Columbus is your friend?

Look, the only good aspect of this book were the illustrations inside but the rest is nearly 500 pages of pure garbage. It's not even an entertaining popcorn book. I was expecting much more and was really let down. This may have been edited only for errors, but the content needs a complete overhaul.
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 interviewed M/>
Kat Heckenbach
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 unr
Niahara Erskine
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 t
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
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!
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
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Savannah Andrea Smith
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

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
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 21, 2013 marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved loved loved this book! It may be middle grade but it is still one of my favourite books of all time
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, why did I read a book cowritten ...more
Barb Middleton
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kim McGee
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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) ...more
Rachel Watkins
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, middle-grade
Wow. This middle grade adventure book has everything: suspense, mystery, thrills, and chills. Did I mention pirates, giants, and evil villians? The three children protaganists are totally real and human. This book is a grand ride. My 11 year old daughter and I both loved it!
Graeme Reynolds
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
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 famil
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kat (Lost in Neverland)

J.K. Rowling supposedly praised this book?
My question is why? This badly written, tried-too-hard-to-be-funny, reinforced gender roles, with cliche characters and situations? How in the everliving fuck did this warrant praise from the author of Harry Potter?
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.
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I loved the premise of this book, I did not love the book itself. It was just okay, hence the two stars. At times, I wondered if I was drunk when I was reading it or if someone had found a way to rip pages our of an ebook. The problem was that the narrative would jump. I would be reading along, end of chapter or page, turn the page and suddenly it was though I had skipped a chapter or 20 pages. My theory is that the book was directed more than it was written. The book would make a great sc ...more
Anne K. Pott
Glad I got my hands on this ARC! This book is definitely a wild ride! Kind of like The Wizard of OZ on steroids. Lots and lots of adventure and mystery, not to mention pirates, giants, a WWI pilot, witches, wild Viking/medieval-ish warriors, magic and mayhem. It's a crazy mish-mash, but somehow it all works together pretty well. I thought the Walker kids' personalities and relationships with each other were fun and young readers should be able to relate to them in many ways. However, it is fairl ...more
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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)
“Losing yourself in a book is the best” 13 likes
“Books lay on the floor in literary dunes.” 12 likes
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