Reading level: Young Adult
Size: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: May 6, 2008
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in Dreamhouse Kings series
Source: Free for Amazon Kindle
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
I have been wanting to read this book for a long time so when I saw it was available for free on Kindle (a while back) I snapped it up. This book is first and foremost an introduction to a series. It has some neat ideas but starts incredibly slow.
The King family moves into this creepy old house that’s definitely a fixer upper. The oldest son, Xander, is bothered by some of the things that are going on in it. For example when people talk the sound doesn’t come from where you think it should, there are other strange sounds around the house, and then there are the gigantic footprints that show up every so often. When Xander and his brother David go exploring they find a set of rooms that takes you to other sinister places.
This book definitely has a very scary and creepy horror feeling to it. Strange sounds and strange men showing up in bedrooms, that kind of thing. In general it creeped me out; so I wouldn’t recommend it to people who scare easily (like me) or people who aren’t fans of suspense/horror type books. There is a fantasy element to it when the boys find the strange rooms that can take them to other times/places. Even with this fantasy element; when the Kings travel to the other places everything is always scary, sinister, and trying to kill them.
The book starts incredibly slow. It takes half the book or more, for the family to move into the house and start seeing the strange things. The whole time I was like, come on, come on, let’s get to some good stuff here. Once they discover the magic rooms things do get much more interesting; but that part is so small compared to how long it takes to set the story up. Because of this pacing issue, this book is more like an intro to the Kings and their house than an actual complete story.
The plot itself is also very predictable. I guessed right at the beginning who the father was and what his past was and was right. I totally agree with Xander about how stupid his dad was about everything that happened; I think it is incredibly unrealistic that a dad would knowingly put his family in that type of position. Which leads me to talking about the characters…they were all okay, but never very interesting. All of the characters do stupid things (as happens in many horror novels) and aren’t really that engaging or likable.
I think the strong part of this novel was the idea of the magic rooms; there is a lot of potential there for an interesting story and it would be interesting to see how these things all tie together.
The book ends on a complete cliffhanger with no resolution (again I am not a fan of those). I really felt like this was just a short intro to this world and not really a complete book at all. The writing style overall is so-so; but nothing to write home about. I also have trouble believing this is targeted for young adults; maybe it might be suspenseful for younger kids…maybe middle grade? I think the YA crowd will find it boring and predictable.
Overall it was okay. The idea of the magic rooms is interesting and I think Liparulo could do a lot with that in future books. The story started very slowly, with lots of setup. The plot was predictable and the characters were so-so. This isn’t really a complete book; it just sets up the world and leaves the poor reader on a total cliffhanger. Oh, and it is way more of a horror book than a fantasy book. So if you are a wuss about scary stuff, like me, then you will want to look elsewhere. I personally will not continue on with this series and am glad that I got it for free. Definitely not my thing.