Title: House of Secrets: Battle of the Beasts
Author: Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
Page Count/Review Word Count: 512
Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.
When I’m reading a book, I quite often start to formulate a rough idea of what a book’s rating is going to be when I’m only part of the way into it. The ratings quite often change, but it’s rare for them to change as much as this one did!
See, I didn’t think much of it to start with – sure, there was nothing wrong with the writing, but something just didn’t feel right. And I was worried that it was heading towards a cliche, and nobody likes a cliche.
But then something strange happened – I got drawn in by the characters and began to need to know what happened next. It turns out that this is the second book in the series, and that the publicist who sent me this copy had also popped the first book in the post to me – by the time it had arrived, I’d already finished this one.
Perhaps that’s why it took me a while to get into it, but once I got to know the characters and their adventure really began, I started to lose myself in the story. Loosely speaking, we’re following three young members of the Walker family as they try to make their way back home after being transported inside a strange world comprising of a mixture of several different (fictional) books.
And so our heroes end up in Ancient Rome at the Colosseum, on top of an ice mountain with a weird order of monks who are trying to take down some ice monsters, and in the middle of a heated battle between American airmen and Nazi cyborgs. As you can imagine, it can get pretty heated at times, but the writers have got a flair for the story they’re telling and so it’s a thrill to read, throughout.
Speaking of the writers, there’s a story there, too – Columbus is the director of the first two Harry Potter films and Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief, as well as the writer of The Goonies and Gremlins and the mind behind Home Alone, Mrs Doubtfire and Night at the Museum. Vizzini, meanwhile, sadly passed away in 2013, and was the best-selling author of a number of book for teens.
With that kind of pedigree at the helm, as well as the might of Harper Collins behind it, you can see why this would be a pretty good book. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but as a piece of YA fantasy fiction, you can’t do much better than this. I mean, I’m 25 and I enjoyed reading it, even if I thought Brendan, the family’s younger brother, was a dick.
Now I just need to catch up on the first book and wait for the sequel to come out. It should be a fun ride!