This was a fairly good read, though it didn't quite meet my expectations. It wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be, and the story kind of dragged in places, but it was still good. To me, there are two kinds of series: one where the first and third books are amazing, and the second is more of a bridge between those two stories (this usually only applies to trilogies), and the other where the first book is only there to set the scene for later books. This was definitely the latter. When the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films . . . but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land.
But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into—as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house.
They soon discover there's something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school.
Then the really weird stuff kicks in: they find a hidden hallway with portals leading off to far-off places—in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen's dream come true . . . or his worst nightmare.
It took about a quarter of the book for me to warm up to the characters, but in the end I found them rather likable. Xander and David had a great sibling relationship, though I feel like they sometimes forgot they also had a sister. There were a few times when I found them really frustrating and stupid, but only a few. I would have liked to get to know the other characters a little more, they seemed to fade into the background quite a bit.
The writing was excellent! There were a lot of parts that were just brilliant, but also a few of over-explaining. Liparulo did a fantastic job of bringing the characters and their emotions to life. I really felt their pain and anger in the end, which was probably the best part of the book. My only real complaint with the writing was that it was a little predictable at times. I guessed the seemingly major plot twist fairly early on, though a lot happened that made me question what I thought, to the point that for a while I had completely disregarded my original theory.
I liked the house. It had its own personality, in a way. It was really interesting to read about the different portals and all the other odd things about the house. My only complaint in that none of it was explained. Everything just was. It left the reader and the characters with a lot of questions, which I hope will be answered throughout the rest of the series.
This was a very enjoyable read, and I definitely look forward to the next book in the series.
I give House of Dark Shadows four roller skates.