Friday, February 10, 2017

Shadow House Volume 1 - The Gathering

I actually debated about buying this series for quite a while - so long, in fact, that I didn't pick it up until the second book had come out.  I had some coupons for Barnes & Noble, didn't find anything else, so figured, what the heck?

Definitely a good choice!

I didn't realize when I bought that book that I already had other books by the author (although that explains why his name sounded familiar to me).  Dan Poblocki had previously written a three book series about "The Mysterious Four," a mystery trilogy about four young kids who decide to form a detective squad to solve mysteries in their town.  Fun reads, but definitely for the pre-teen crowd.  Not this series!  This series is dark, filled with supernatural and creepy horror, and most definitely for the early teen readers.

Shadow House: The Gathering introduces readers to its five protagonists - the shy orphan, Poppy; the musical genius, Marcus; the surviving sister, Azumi; and the precocious twins, Dash and Dylan.  Five pre-teens who couldn't be more different if they tried. Yet, they soon discovery they do have something in common - they have all been summoned in one fashion or another to the Larkspur house.  Poppy discovers a letter from an unknown relative; Marcus receives a scholarship to a new school of music; Azumi finds a boarding school that would take her away from her grieving family; and Dash and Dylan are hired to star in a new horror movie - all of them at the Larkspur house, otherwise known as the Shadow House.

As soon as the kids arrive at the house, the find themselves targets - from shadowy creatures, to masked ghost children, to the house itself.  Rooms and hallways change without notice, and once inside, the five kids find themselves locked in with no way out.  Of course, each of them is harboring a secret.  Poppy sees a ghost girl in every mirror.  Marcus hears music that no one else hears.  Azumi left her sister behind to disappear in a Japanese forest.  And Dash and Dylan - - well their secret was actually a big surprise, so I'm not going to spoil it here.  Suffice to say, it will not be what you expect!  From there, things only get worse, and the five of them must put aside their differences and band together if they want to survive whatever is happening in that house!

Poblocki definitely writes one heck of a scary tale!  The story itself is enough to give any pre-teen, or possibly even teenager, reading it the heebie-jeebies, but the ghostly photos throughout the book only cause readers even more uneasiness.  The images in the photos are not only ghostly, but downright creepy and disturbing.  Mix the story and the photos together, and you get a truly engaging story that will make you uncomfortable at times, make you jump at times, and make you want, above else, to read more and get these kids out of there!

By far, this has truly been my biggest surprise read of the year - did not initially hold out much hope for this to be all that great, but it far surpassed any expectations I had.  Not at all what I was expecting, and certainly scarier than some of the horror tales I've read lately aimed at adults.  Would definitely recommend this to any horror fans, young and old alike!

RATING:  9 ghostly girls in the mirror out of 10 for knowing how to tell a true tale of horror!

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