Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Size: 10 hours and 38 minutes (385 pages)
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Secret Order series
Source: Audiobook from Audible.com
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
This is the first book in the Amber House trilogy. It ended up being kind of a creepy, gothic mystery with some paranormal elements. It was a decent story and I enjoyed watching the mystery unravel.
I listened to this on audiobook and I think I would have been better off reading it in paper format. While the narrator does a good job with character voices and emotion, I really thought that her voice didn’t fit the tone of the story very well. The narrator’s voice was too perky for such a dark story and it kind of distracted from the mood of the story. I wouldn’t really recommend listening to this on audiobook.
Sarah Parsons travels to the mysterious Amber House with her family after her grandmother passes away. Sarah has never been to Amber House and finds out she can see images from the past in the houses halls. In the course of this she ends up unraveling some dark secrets in Amber House’s past.
This was a well done gothic read about a girl unraveling the history of both her family and Amber House. Sarah can see images from the past and has to use these images to put together all of the pieces of the house’s sordid history. The son their housekeeper, Jackson, also has some special abilities.
I enjoyed how the mystery was woven together, but just had some trouble with the imagery and the point of the whole story. There are a lot of heavy gothic overtones involving madness, death, secret passages, and dark deadly spiders. The story does take place in modern times but we spend a lot of time looking into the past with Sarah.
Sarah ends up involved in a bit of a love triangle (which I dislike). She spends a lot of time with Jackson but is dissuaded from spending time with him because he’s not a suitable match (very backwards thinking for a novel set in modern times). She is also wooed by the nearly perfect Richard who is a Senator’s son and fabulous at everything.
There is a lot of intrigue in the story, a lot of people lying and doing things to get ahead of other people. Pretty much a lot of what is typically thought of as high society maneuvering for power.
The story takes a strange twist at the end that had me rolling my eyes a bit. It was just so contrived. I actually read through it a couple times because I wanted to make sure that what I thought was happening was actually happening. I didn’t really enjoy the ending that much.
Overall a decent story. The story was an interesting blend of gothic elements, time travel, ghosts, and paranormal elements. I honestly didn’t find the characters all that engaging. I also wasn’t ever really totally drawn into the story. Still it was a well enough written book that this would have been a 4 star rating if not for the horribly contrived ending. The ending is an awful cliffhanger and just sooooo forced. I won’t be reading any more books in this series. However if you are a big fan of ghost stories or gothic reads you might enjoy this.