Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Review: Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed and Larkin Reed

When Sarah's grandmother dies, Sarah, her ambitious mother, and her little brother Sammy are left with Amber House, an elegant Southern mansion filled with antiques, extremely valuable art, and echoes from the past.  Its hidden rooms and passages once used for smuggling pirate treasure, bootlegging, and the Underground Railroad, Amber House has a long family history of mystery, madness and intrigue.

Even though Amber House has been in the family for generations, Sarah's mom wants nothing to do with it.  She plans to sell the mansion, and everything in it, before they return home to Seattle.  But when mysterious Jackson, the Amber House cook's grandson, recruits Sarah to help him find a secret cache of lost diamonds, famous in local legend as being hidden by a sea captain ancestor, Sarah is intrigued by the 200-year-old mystery.  She convinces her reluctant mom that they should stay at Amber House instead of a hotel while they're getting the house ready to sell.

But while Sarah and Jackson are exploring the attic, she sees something she can't explain.  Jackson tells her that the translucent, spidery woman she saw wasn't a ghost - it was Amber House, playing echoes of the people who lived and died in the house, people who want Sarah to set them free.  Not everyone can see them, but Sarah has the gift - and her grandmother did too.

When Sarah's mom decides to throw her a lavish masquerade ball for her sixteenth birthday to show off Amber House to the local gentry before the auction, Sarah finds herself with more time to get to know Amber House and its echoes - and Jackson.  But when a mysterious little girl in a white dress appears who seems to be trapped in the echoes, Sarah knows she has to help her and find the diamonds before Amber House is sold and lost to her family forever.

Sumptuous and decadent, this Southern gothic is for anyone who loved The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch, can't wait for the movie version of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, can't get enough of the Salvatore mansion and the almost-weekly balls in Mystic Falls on the The Vampire Diaries, or just can't resist a good party!  After all, when a book has ghosts from the past, lost diamonds, secret passageways, a hedge maze, a hidden treehouse with a dark secret, a complicated love triangle, regattas, and a swoony senator's son, what's not to love?!

(who is super excited to see Seraphina win the 2013 Morris Award and Code Name Verity on the Printz honor list!)

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