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Poppy, Marcus, Dash, Dylan and Azumi are all trapped within Shadow House, a sinister estate where past and present intertwine. As they fight to find a way out, the kids think the ghosts of the house are the greatest danger they face. Little do they know that it's the secrets they're each hiding that will prove even more lethal. They're going to have to come face to face with their fears if they stand any hope of escaping the house alive. Is there anyone or anything in the house they can trust? Or is all hope disappearing too...
Picking up the book I was automatically drawn to the front cover, its spellbinding and really catches your attention. Opening the cover I was pleased to see the book was done exactly as the first one with the grayish tinged paper with speckling of black to add to the supernatural theme. The story starts off exactly where it finished, so you are straight into the mysteries that the house holds. Although, it has been a while since I read the first one there is no real recap so I had to remember as I went along, luckily it all came back to me.
This book adds lots of new characters and gives it another element to the story. You are left not really sure what to believe or 'who is real' so instead of trying to predict what would happen next, I found myself just enjoying the ride. I think if you have not read the first book you would be left a tad confused and I don't think you would understand the story at all. The house takes on a whole new persona and you finally get to meet some key players of the story.
The chapters are nice and short and the plot runs smoothly along. Its not a complicated story but I have to admit it does get confusing in some areas especially when the Specials are involved and their real names were being used. It leaves you wanting more and holding out for the next book as I need to know what happens to them all especially Dash and Dylan.
There is also an app that goes along with the book. It is the same that was used in the first book and again you have to unlock the key for each level, which in some instances can take some time. The difference with this book/level is you actually do need to have read the book first as one of the levels is basically based on moving up the floors and breaking the puzzles. I won't say it is an easy level to pass and it is rather annoying as it is very dark and it is easy to miss a required peace, but its a great way to waste an hour of your life.
I think this series is fantastic for teenagers who are looking for that something extra in a story. It has its pulse racing moments and deals with ghosts and other supernatural forces. Along with the app it is a great little package and I am sure if you read the two books you will be holding out for the third just like I am.
Having read and enjoyed the first book in the series, I was looking forward to reading this one too. Although it was some time since I read the first book, I found it easy to pick up on the story - the cover gives the background information that the reader needs to get into the book, and you are plunged straight into the action from the very first line.
I found the characters believable and the story compulsive reading as there is the continued need to find out what will happen next. I was able to get the assistance of Miss 11 this time round: I gave her Book 1 ("Gathering") to read first and she could not wait to borrow the second book. She is into Gothic horror and things that go bump in the night, and the shadowed format of the pages did not worry her as she has excellent eyesight. (Miss 16, who attempted to review the first book for me, could not continue as she found the pages too difficult to read.)
The plot is complicated so you really have to be careful to read every single word. If you don't keep up with it, you will miss something vital and have to start the chapter again. Luckily, the chapters are quite short so it is easy to backtrack if you get interrupted. Both of us loved the pictures; they have a creepy quality all of their own due to the monochrome shading and uneven focus. I already had the Shadow House app downloaded on my iPad so she borrowed it to try out an electronic adventure of her own. As a child of the digital age, she loved exploring the linked ghost stories on a new level.
There is just enough spooky material and gruesome descriptions to make the book unsuitable for younger readers. I would not give it to just any eleven-year-old as some might find it gives them nightmares. However, if you know your youngster's tastes, it is a fun read for the more adventurous. I like the way the book winds up. Although most of the loose ends are tied up, there are enough left to whet the reader's appetite for the next book in the series.
There are some interesting observations built into the story on the importance of loyalty and being there for your friends. These messages are not obvious but they are there nonetheless, and an astute young person will pick up on them without realising it. In its own way, the story celebrates the triumph of good over evil, all wrapped up in a fast-paced, tightly scripted novel.
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"A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)