House of Dark Shadows is the first in the Dreamhouse Kings - a new series for young adults by Robert Liparulo. This series gets its name from the fact that the King family - mom, dad and 3 kids - were searching for their dreamhouse. The "ah ha" moment for me is when the two brothers mention the old soap opera Dark Shadows and the vampire character of Barnabas Collins. Although the book has nothing in common with Dark Shadows - except for the old house - the title was the hook that reeled me into reading the book; and I'm certainly glad it did.
Alexander - Xander - the oldest child, at 15 - is upset because his family is moving from their home in Pasadena to the small hick town of Pinedale. His father - Edward - has accepted a job at the Pinedale high school. Younger brother David - Dae - and baby sister Victoria - Toria - are excited about the move. Their mom Gertrude - G - tries to settle the peace between her oldest son's strong desire to return to their home town, and her husband's excitement with the move. The King family finally finds what they think is their dreamhouse, but soon learn the house has a dark history.
The King family starts to notice strange things are going on in their new home - voices seem to travel, family members appear in opposite areas of the house from where they were, and rooms appear larger than the outside of the house. Xander and David find a secret hidden door and discover mysterious portals on a hidden third floor. They learn once these portals are entered, they are difficult to escape from. Xander learns the hard way when he travels back to the Roman Colliseum, and then David travels about to some forbidden jungle.
The story is interesting and it is a fast read, so readers soon find themselves thinking about the mysterious house and trying to solve its mysteries. In classic James Patterson fashion, the chapters are short and they keep you guessing as you move from one scene to the next.
Although this is considered a Young Adult book, adults will also enjoy the suspense and mystery this book has to offer. This is the first book I have read of Liparulo's, but it certainly won't be the last. Because of a major cliffhanger at the end of House of Dark Shadows, I have immediately started on the 2nd book in the series, The Watcher in the Woods. The 3rd book, The Gatekeeper, will be released in January 2009.
Although this book is put out by Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson it does not have a strong religious agenda. The King family is written in realistic fashion, and they do occasionally mention God or going to church, but that is not the main goal of this series. This book was fun and enjoyable, and I would highly recommend it to readers of all ages.