I got this from audible as a “first of a series” special, and since I’m a sucker for YA, Middle Grade, and anything about haunted houses, this seemed the most promising of the lot.
It does have a dark, mysterious house. In fact, this house is even better than the ones that the Pevensie children played in in the Narnia series. In the Pevensie childrens’ house, the creatures from Narnia didn’t come into the house in the middle of the night and leave footprints in the dust. I woudln’t say it’s completely a gothic mystery, however, more adventure fantasy.
The series starts very slowly. I think it was halfway through the book before they even move into the house. Since it’s part of a series, I can sort of understand. If you know this is part of a series, and expect that it’s part of a series, and see it not as a novel in itself but volume one of an extensive tome, then the slow beginning makes sense. If you intend to stop at one novel, its pace was too slow for the length of the book. The book pretty much ends at the end of where I’d put Act 2 of a 5 act play.
There’s good character building between the protagonist and his brother; the two boys have defined personalities that interact well with one another. The other characters are not well fleshed out. The father does some things, and has some of his own secrets, but the sister and mother feel like extras in an action film. They scream pretty, but they don’t have major roles.
The setting of the house is amazing, nicely mysterious, full of adventure. There’s adventure galore in the latter half of this book, lots of danger and mysteries and near-death escapes, if the slow beginning doesn’t turn you off. If you’re a precocious pre-teen or teen, you’ll probably feast on the adventure parts, even if you’re a boy.
One caveat, the audible version had a narrator that spoke very slowly and clearly. Too much so, at times. He started to bug me, because he was so careful that it seemed like he was mocking the listener. I found it an unwelcome distraction.