House Of Secrets | Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini | Book Review

Sometimes you really click with a book and it’s like OMG WHERE HAS THIS BOOK BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE and other times, you read a book and think, hmmmm, I guess that was okay? Y’all, House Of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini was a pretty okay read for me. I was kind of expecting more bang for my buck because of the JK Rowling blurb, so perhaps that is why my expectations were a tad too high which certainly colors how I personally read a book.

House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini | Good Books And Good Wine

The Walker family is currently looking for a new home, as they had to downsize after the loss of Dr. Walker’s job. When the real estate agent brings the family to the Kristoff mansion, the family thinks there’s just no way, but luckily the house is way cheaper than expected. So, anyways, they buy the mansion. Unfortunately, this creepy old lady is super pissed, so she magically sends the Walker children – Brendan, Cordelia, and Eleanor into books written by the mansion’s previous owner, Denver Kristoff. The children come across barbarians, pirates, and more as they try to find their way back home to their parents. It turns out that the Kristoff mansion is a House Of Secrets (see what I did there).

I guess I should go over the things I liked about House Of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini first. For one, I liked that there were two main female characters who both had different strengths and were active and actually did things and weren’t you know, sitting in the background waiting for their brother to save them. I will admit, I identified with Cordelia because she is the oldest and she’s bookish and totally the leader of the siblings, just like me. Anyways. I also really liked the concept — of how the three Walker kids were pulled into different novels written by Denver Kristoff, I guess because I always thought it would be so cool to travel into books that I really liked.


As for things I did not like. Well, you guys, here is the thing, I actually really enjoy reading very long books. I occasionally think, the longer the better. However, the fact of the matter is, I just kept waiting for House Of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini to end. It’s just that there’s so much going on and I kind of felt exhausted by the end. That is not to say this is a slow book, it’s definitely not. It’s actually a very quick read for such a long book. My whole problem is that I never entirely bought into the book. I felt this whole disconnect between myself and the story. I mean, I read the book and got through all the pages and didn’t feel the need to DNF, but I never ever felt the need to pick it up and read it when I wasn’t on my exercise bike. I just wasn’t all that compelled.

I know, I know this is not my greatest review ever — that will happen when you review and watch FRIENDS at the same time. But, ya know, I gave this book a fair shake and I tried to love it, but ended up feeling sort of indifferent. Maybe, if I was younger and not expecting JK Rowling quality (because of the blurb), but yes, I couldn’t get into it. I would say the ideal audience for this book would be actual middle school students who are into fantasy adventure books.

Disclosure: Received for review.

Other reviews of House Of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini:

There’s A Book – “blends a bit of creepy along with that Jumanji and/or Zathura feel of adventure
Tripping Over Books – “really fun start to a series that promises to keep readers invested and enchanted.
A Reader Of Fictions -“I totally pictured the creepy Dahlia Kristoff as Ursula from The Little Mermaid

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Oh no! It makes me sad to hear that you didn’t like this one as much as you expected to. I’m really looking forward to it, as I love Vizzini and totally got curious after that blurb. Let’s hope I do end up enjoying it!

    • Hey, it happens and I can be super picky sometimes, so keep that in mind. I hope that you end up really enjoying it and not expecting too much out of it like I did.

  2. This premise sounds amazing so I’m really disappointed to hear it wasn’t as wonderful as you were expecting! I hate when a book has such a unique premise but doesn’t deliver. But I do love that it has two strong female leads. Great review, April!

    • Right? Magical houses are almost always totally awesome, but in this case, I’d rather re-read Tuesdays At The Castle instead, at least that Castle was awesome and like a character.

      I have to say, it’s a bit sad that I have to recognize how great two strong female leads are, that should be a norm, ya know?


  3. Well, unfortunately not every book can be a winner (especially when they’re compared to J.K. Rowling aka the mistress of all things magical!), but at least it wasn’t terrible. I often find with certain YA books that they skew just a little too much of the Y and not enough of the A. It sounds like a terrific premise though.

  4. Oh, how sad! You know a book is disappointing when you just want it to be over, it’s a shame that it wasn’t as great as you hoped it would be

    Thanks for your honesty!

  5. I heard this wasn’t the best book, for many of the reasons you mention. Apparently it’s going to be a movie.

  6. I’m glad we feel the same way, though I think I liked it a bit more than you did. But I was just nodding along while reading your review.

    And there’s gonna be a whole series! I just don’t see how they’ll stretch it out past book 2.

  7. Aww, that’s a bummer than this didn’t live up to your expectations. My expectations would be sky high, too, with JK Rowling blurbing it. I mean, it’s J. FREAKING K. Rowling!

    I’m debating on picking it up for my library. The kids are really into fantasy, so I might get it.

    Thanks for the review.

  8. My expectations weren’t as high as others so I don’t think I’ll be as let down but it’s nice to have some concerns confirmed before I do eventually read it!

  9. I have to admit that the closer I got to the end of this book, it seemed to drag for me, too. It was a little long in the tooth. I definitely also liked Cordelia and the fact that the kids each had their own strengths.