Wednesday, December 10, 2008

House of Dark Shadows, by Robert Liparulo (Thomas Nelson)

(Click cover for more information)

This is my first foray into the young adult thriller genre, and I entered with guarded expectations. Modern young adult readers have been conditioned to supernatural worlds largely without boundaries through the imaginations of writers such as JK Rowling and Lemony Snicket. Therefore, the Christian writer nudging this genre must marry other-worldly story lines into a Christian world view gingerly, as there exists the danger of contorting one or the other beyond reason in the attempt to achieve a believable, peaceful coexistence between them.

In House of Dark Shadows, Robert Liparulo unfolds an intriguing tale of horror and adventure, capturing the teenage perspective wonderfully through the mind of 15-yeard old Xander King. Xander and his family have moved from their LA home to a backwoods upstate community where his father has accepted a high school principal’s job. They move into an old Victorian-style house that has a dark history, one that it immediately begins to relive. Strange things begin to happen to Xander’s family, things that lead to a reenactment of the horrific event that lent the house its notoriety.

Mr. Liparulo sets the stage, and acts out a couple of the scenes, that tickle the reader’s attention and forces the next page turn. Toward the end of this first installment of the Dreamhouse Kings series, the truth bursts out about the family and the house…but you’ll have to dig into the next volume, Watcher in the Woods, for any resolution. Yup, it’s gonna leave you hanging.

House of Dark Shadows is well written and very entertaining. I must confess, though, that I’m still waiting for any hint of the Christian perspective to emerge, however. It need not be blatant—in fact, it hopefully won’t be blatant—when it does emerge. However, as of the final page of this book, there’s no hint of such an attempt to achieve that believable coexistence. Perhaps that, too, is resolved in the next volume.

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