House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
J.K. Rowling called this novel for High School and Intermediate aged children “a roller coaster of an adventure”, and she is right.
Both writers of this novel have impressive backgrounds in film and it shows. The dialogue is tight, sharp with many of the one-liners that characterise American humour.
The plot moves from one fantastic scene to another and involves a magic house, giants, pirates, witches and a family feud that is related to the history of San Francisco(wear flowers in your hair) notably the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
The Walker family are down on their luck after the surgeon father commits an atrocity on the stomach of a patient while in some sort of outside induced trance. This starts off a torrent of action that is just breathless.
The family purchase a house that is in the million dollar catagory for a mere $300,000. How come?
Siblings Cordelia, Brendan and Eleanor are sharp cookies. They know something is wrong with this deal and when the parents are eliminated and the house is rushed into a fantasy world of thugs, giants and pirates they have a job working out what is going on.
It turns out they are being manipulated by the plot of several novels wrtten by the previous owner and builder of the house, now deceased, Devon Kristoff. It seems the Walkers and the Kristoffs have a history and the daughter now over 100years old and a witch wants a book written by her father called The book of Doom and Desire. The children have to find it.
Contiuous action and fantasy just like a Spielberg film.