The second installment of this horror series was not quite as engaging as the first one, perhaps because the "unknown" factor of the series is no longer there. Five children are trapped inside Larkspur House, where ghosts with animal masks are constantly chasing them, the mysterious man who called them there is haunting them, and the rooms and doors seem to change without warning. In the first book, each of the children discover that they have similarities to the previous children in the house - children who died and now seem to be intent on seeing these five die as well. The only thing is - one of them already is dead!
The author, Dan Poblocki, continues the story in true horror-flick fashion. The kids are separated from one another, they don't know who they can trust, and while some want to get out any way they can, others are insistent that they find their missing siblings. For Dash, his twin brother Dylan may be beyond help, while for Azumi, her sister Moriko may be the only hope the kids have of getting out of this shadow house.
Poblocki takes us through more twists and turns of the house, as the kids explore ways to escape. There's the greenhouse with the zombie-like creature; there's the school room with the chalkboard on which writing mysteriously appears; there's the laboratory filled with a number of dead things kept in jars; and there's the tower room, open to the outside that could mean release for the kids. But it's a long, four-story drop on a slanted roof, and when the Specials follow them up through room after room, Poppy and her new-found friends realize their only way to survive is by taking a chance on that dangerous roof.
There are a few revelations about Cyrus Caldwell, as well as the first group of children who lived in the home. Readers will learn more about why Cyrus did what he did - but the question is ever-present: what is true and what is a lie? In the shadow house, one never knows for sure! And rest assured, this is not the end! While four of the children manage to find a way out of the house, not all of them will make it out alive ... and for the three survivors, there's a hint at the end that what's waiting for them in the woods surrounding the shadow house could be much more dangerous than what they faced inside the house!
RATING: 7 fox-chasing rabbits out of 10 for maintaining a level of spookiness that keeps the story engaging, while reminding readers that in this story - no one is safe!