by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
496 pages of suspenseful action that will have you questioning what is real
Sometimes when things look to good to be true, it is wise to be cautious. The Walker family is looking for a new house. Ever since the “incident” they have been crammed into an apartment and questioning how they will move forward. They discover an ad describing a Victorian mansion for sale overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Designed and built by an obscure, occult author in the late 1800’s, it has been completely renovated and furnished with period pieces. The house is stunning. On top of that it is priced perfectly for the Walkers. And yet Cordelia, Brendan and Eleanor find themselves wondering. The house is exciting and creepy at the same time. First there is the statue – there and then gone. Then there is the neighbor claiming to be the elderly daughter of the original owner of the home, Denver Kristoff. Something feels wrong, but by the time they understand what, they are caught in a sinister plan fueled by greed and the desire for ultimate power. The children are far away from any certain help. Their parents are gone – perhaps dead. They are attacked by bandits in a primeval forest, forcing them to team up with a World War I Flying Ace who helps them escape only to be thrown onto a ship captained by an sadistic pirate.
Just as the Walker siblings have found a way to defeat one life threatening event, another arises. They realize they have actually been transported into Denver Kristoff’s stories. They search through the books in the library, reading and learning all they can fighting for survival and looking for a way back into their own time. The book of Doom and Desire has set the powerful magic in motion – when you have the book you are able to have everything you wish, but at a price. Will the Walkers be able to resist? What if they die trying? Is it worth it?
This is a fast paced, convoluted tale that is sure to surprise. I loved the juxtapostion of real life with story life – which is real and how do you survive in a world you know only exists in a book. Can you use what you’ve read to change the story in your favor? What happens when your actions join the plots of two or more books? Are the stories changed forever? Do the characters die? Can you get out of a story once you live there?
The Walkers are characters you’ll come to admire. Their determination and loyalty is honest and true – they are honestly annoyed by each other’s quirks and failings, but they know they are all each other have. They pull through with the help of unusual friends and the opportunity to make the unexpected possible. It’s a book you’ll be glad you read. I wouldn’t be surprised if you read it again right away. There’s a lot to think about and question. I was glad to see “book 1” by the title. I am eager to spend more time with the Walkers to see how they deal with obvious occult magic surrounding their new home and family.