"I was sixteen the first time my grandmother died. . . ."
Sarah Parsons has never seen Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that's been in her family for three centuries. She's never walked its hedge maze nor found its secret chambers; she's never glimpsed the shades that haunt it, nor hunted for the lost diamonds in its walls.
But after her grandmother passes away, Sarah and her friend Jackson decide to search for the diamonds--and the House comes alive. She discovers that she can see visions of the House's past, like the eighteenth-century sea captain who hid the jewels, or the glamorous great-grandmother driven mad by grief. Sarah grows closer to both Jackson and a young man named Richard Hathaway, whose family histories are each deeply entwined with her own. But when her ghostly visions start to threaten the person she holds most dear, Sarah must do everything she can to get to the bottom of the House's secrets, and stop the course of history before it is cemented forever.
This was Amber House, after all, where the past was never really over and done with.
I had absolutely zero expectations of Amber House when I decided to pick it up, I'd read no reviews about it and there's been very little hype surrounding the book. So I went into it with a completely blank slate, knowing nothing but the little I was told in the GR description, which is something that I don't do too often. But, this time, the chance I took on a random book I knew next to nothing about really paid off in the end. This is a super-creepy, paranormal mystery (not historical fiction, as some might think, but it does contain some delving into family history) with a likeable heroine, centuries-old secrets and a look at several generations of one seriously dysfunctional family.
The story is about a girl named Sarah whose grandmother has just passed away and left her mother with the centuries-old Maryland estate that has been the home of their family for generations. Sarah doesn't know what it was that drove such a wedge between her mother and grandmother but she knows there are dark secrets hidden in the very walls of Amber House. Secrets that may be dangerous. When Sarah begins to see visions of her ancestors throughout the house, she finds herself pulled into a search for the treasure rumoured to be somewhere in the vast mansion, but soon it becomes apparent that more than just buried diamonds is waiting to be unearthed.
Let me tell you now: this is a creepy book. It uses a lot of traditional horror elements but puts an unusual spin on them. The big, scary mansion is not exactly anything new, but the characters make this a worthy addition to the already sky-high pile of spooky house books. Plus, the historical parts that are woven into the modern day story add a touch of something different; in this case, Sarah's ancestors include a slave-owner, a sea captain and a woman driven mad by grief. Sarah herself is likeable, especially because of her relationship with her autistic brother and the way she puts his comfort and safety before her own. I also really look forward to hearing more about her relationship with her mother in the sequel, it's rocky at best but I think they are not as different as either one believes.
I got distracted, back to the scary. Well, quite a few parts of this reminded me of The Woman in Black, but I'll let you work out why for yourself, just proceed with caution if you get scared easily. As much as people like to sneer at those who use old, overdone ideas in their work, there's a reason why certain things appear in most horror movies - because they're effin' scary! I can easily name the top three things I find the scariest of all in movies and books: 1) creepy children, 2) mirrors and 3) clowns/jokers. Sadly, there are no clowns in Amber House, but that's where the disappointment ends. Both creepy children and mirrors feature strongly in this story. Really, I don't know why kids manage to be so creepy:
And mirrors. Bloody mirrors. Every time I see a mirror in a horror film, I watch it like a hawk for anything weird appearing in it. Because we all know the horror-genre rule of mirrors, don't we? What's in the mirror, never stays in the mirror.
Are you scared yet? Hehehe. Of course, if this book was perfect I would have given it five stars. And it might have been perfect if it wasn't for the - gawd, can I even say it - love triangle. AHHHHHHH!!!! Not another one!!!! But really, it's not so bad when weighed against all the good, also, the thing that makes this one somewhat more bearable is that both guys seem worthy and equal candidates for Sarah's heart, it isn't like Twilight where it's so painfully obvious from day one that Bella will end up with Edward and Jacob will have to find love elsewhere (though even I thought Meyer wasn't low enough to pair him with a baby). So, you actually don't know who Sarah's going to end up with.
I would highly recommend this, even with the love triangle. Amber House is quite different from most young adult books and did I mention it's really creepy? But just in case you were really let down by the lack of clowns too:
I feel like every book with a goddamn love triangle in it should come with a warning like this so that I know to stay the hell away from them. The triangle in this book almost ruined the whole thing for me. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back this bus up and start from the beginning.
Note: This is not going to be my usual quick, snarky book breakdown. I have a lot of things to say about this one. Short version is I almost DNFed it but it was worth it in the long run. Read on if you want to listen to me bitch and whine and nitpick.
Let me just go ahead and put this out there and you can all judge me because that’s what people do, we judge. This book is about a rich white chick from an old money family with a shady past. It’s set in on the shores of the Chesapeake, in Maryland. I live in Maryland, on the shores of the Chesapeake, in one of the five richest counties in the country.
I know the people this author is trying write about. Hell, I spent half my life in Cape Cod, where my ancestors landed with the Mayflower and NEVER LEFT. The kids I grew up with were spoiled little assholes from old money, the people I live near now are spoiled old assholes from old money. I know what they sound like, I know what they look like, I know their mannerisms, their habits and their prejudices. So excuse me if I seem critical but this book fails to recreate them in quite a few aspects.
“But, heavens, Robert, maybe it’s just impossible.”
This is the mother of our MC, Sarah, talking. She deferred to men a lot. Maybe they spoke like that in the fifties but these rich biddies today don’t kowtow to men like they used to, especially not when it comes to what they consider to be the deadly serious business of trying to plan a party, as Sarah’s mother was in this scene. These days, they’re just as used to getting their way as their male counterparts and they realize that playing the stupid, helpless female gets a hell of a lot less done than if they simply take hold of the situation and do it themselves. Or more specifically, bark out commands to everyone around them.
At said party, which is Sarah’s sweet sixteen, the most popular punk band in America plays. That’s right. 250 guests, all of which are disgustingly wealthy, well-educated, and incredibly political, because when you live 45 min from D.C. you don’t have a choice not to be, crowded around at a hundred thousand dollar party…listening to punk rock? *snort* Never. Seriously, in real life, NEVER.
There were a lot of other little misses like this but I don’t want to be too nitpicky because when it comes down to it, I felt that the author got a lot of it disturbingly right. Sarah’s mother’s waspishness and how critical she was of her daughter, how cold and detached she was, especially struck me. She was the consummate master manipulator. God, she could have been inspired by my best friend’s mother, a woman that I loathe to this day. I hated reading about her for that very reason.
Another character that struck too close to home was one of the love interests, Richard Hathaway, son of a senator and monumental douche in training. Oh sure, there are hints that he could be an okay person, maybe without the good looks and the money. But the thing is, I know him too and as the MC was ooing and aahing over how “perfect” he was, my fingers were itching to slap her. What about how casually sarcastic he was towards her in front of his guy friends? What about how he kept score of her ‘cool points’ and seemed to be using them to brainwash her into wanting to please him so she wouldn’t lose any? What a Dick (see what I did there?). Her being blind to these things made me like her less than I would have without Richard’s character.
The other love interest is non-caucasion and at first I was so happy because it’s not often that I come across bi-racial couples in YA. His name is Jackson and I loved his character. He was obviously my choice for the MC from the beginning and part of the reason I hated Dickbag McGee so much. But then when it came time to describe other characters of color I got:
A pretty brunette to my left leaned over the top of me to talk to a guy all sharp angles and brown skin, like some Bollywood movie star…
“You went sailing with Dickie?” a dead-ringer for Will Smith asked me.
If they were white we got characteristic descriptions, if not, comparisons. And let’s not forget the fact that her little brother has been diagnosed with autism, yet when some idiot utters the following our MC neither corrects her, nor even thinks anything corrective when it comes to the word choice.
“My dad says all kinds of people have gone crazy in that house,” the girl opposite me added, “and some retarded girl got killed on the front lawn back when he was just a kid.”
All of these quotes happen within a page or two of each other and maybe I’m being hypercritical but this was the point that I nearly quit. The only reasons that I kept going, were that I have an ARC of the second, and the mystery in the book.
Sarah’s grandmother has just died, leaving her mother the massive, and seemingly sentient, Amber House, the oldest home in Maryland. Her mother is dead set on selling it and the longer Sarah is in the house for, and the more eerie resonances she feels, the more she begins to discover why that is. You see, Amber House isn’t haunted, it’s like the house itself has consciousness, and instead of seeing ghosts, what Sarah is shown are the home’s memories. Pretty neat twist, right? I sure thought so.
Sarah thinks that she can save the house when Jackson tells her that there might be diamonds hidden within it, so they go searching for them. At first, this was incredibly creepy because it seemed like every time Sarah touched something, the house showed her things. And not all of these visions seemed friendly. But then it got boring. These were some of the things they found instead of the diamonds:
“A box of empty pickling jars. Boxes of dishes. A stereopticon packed with rows of double-sided pictures. A case of canned food from the 1940s.”
Zzzzzzzzz. WTF? What happened to the progression of the story? It seemed to lose its way several times in the first half of the book. Surprisingly, the second more than made up for it. Specifically, the twist at the very end did. There were a few things that the MC should have worked out had she not had her head shoved up her ass but I’m gonna give her a pass on them because of the difficulties that she was going through.
So 2.5 stars it is because even though I’m happy that I stuck with it, I spent more than half the book either irritated or offended.
Sarah Parsons’ Grandmother Ida has just passed away. She wasn’t very close to her growing up due to some falling out between her Grandmother and her mother, Anne. In fact, Sarah had never seen the famous family estate, Amber House, before coming out for the funereal. Amber House is a beautiful famous house that’s been in the family for three centuries. It’s one of those wonderful mansions complete with ballroom, conservatory, grand halls, hidden staircases, and secret rooms. Sarah immediately makes friends with Jackson who seems to know a lot about her. Jackson tells her stories of diamonds hidden somewhere in Amber House, so they team up to find these diamonds. In the process, Sarah realizes she can see echoes from the past; echoes that glimpse a family history much darker than she ever thought possible.
Sarah won’t have much time to hunt for diamonds or uncover the mysteries of her family, because her mother has decided to sell the house and everything in it. Her mother wants nothing more than to be rid of it. To aid in that, Sarah’s mother enlisted an old high school friend and his good-looking son, Richard to help. Richard immediately shows an interest in her but Sarah is suspicious of his motives.
It was easy to connect to Sarah as the story was told in her POV. Sarah is a typical teenage girl currently dealing with a strained family dynamic. Her parents are currently estranged and she’s feels a lot of frustration towards her cold mother. You can’t help but feel anger and frustration at her mother right along with Sarah. In so many scenes I wanted to shake that mom because she showed very little love towards Sarah. Sarah was more of a pawn in her manipulations. I loved that in spite of all this Sarah had a determination to keep her five year-old brother, Sammy safe and happy. As for the love interests, there is a mild love-triangle going on but nothing unbearable. It may not even be continued into the next book. We shall see.
It’s been a long time since I read a spooky mystery, complete with “ghosts” and haunted house and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. There are a few delicious mysteries to keep you occupied in this story: you have the search for the diamonds, the mystery behind all the bitterness between Anne and Ida (Sarah’s mom and grandmother). Also, why is Sarah seeing these visions? Are they harmless to her? Why is Jackson not surprised by her abilities? There were some scenes that literally gave me goose bumps. Seriously creepy! I was totally immersed this story. The rich descriptions of Amber House and the different periods of time made you feel like you were right there.
Going in I wasn’t aware that Amber House is a planned trilogy but I found out at the end! This is an ingenious mind-bending plot that certainly did NOT wrap up at the end and I’m left to wonder: what’s going to happen next?! Next book please!
I forgot to mention that the cover fits perfectly with this story. The house is exactly as it is described right down to the maze in the garden. Also, Sarah wears the dress you see pictured for her party. Yay for a pretty cover that fits the story!
Do you like haunted old houses with tangled histories and lots of secret passages? If so, Amber House is the mother lode. This is the kind of book where the heroine figures out there’s a hidden staircase because, while it’s nowhere to be seen in the house itself, a dollhouse based on the real house does have a staircase in that spot. If this appeals to you — and it definitely appeals to me — you need to read Amber House.
Our heroine is Sarah Parsons, whose family inherits, and temporarily moves into, the eponymous Amber House after Sarah’s grandmother dies. Sarah has always had inexplicable abilities, and in her ancestral home, they’re turned up to eleven: she can see echoes of the past as she explores the estate. Meanwhile, her autistic little brother is acting strangely, her mother is cold and obsessed with social climbing, and everyone seems to know more about the house’s painful history than Sarah does.
For the romantic at heart, there’s plenty to swoon over here — a lavish Sweet Sixteen party, a sumptuous dress, and a love triangle. As for me, I was a little annoyed by the love triangle at first, both because love triangles are overdone and because, to my mind, one of Sarah’s suitors is so clearly a better choice than the other, and Sarah doesn’t always treat him well. However, the authors — mother-and-daughters team Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed — tie this plot element in nicely with the book’s other themes in the end, and I ended up pleasantly surprised and glad it was there.
And what Amber House is really about, deep down, is mothers and daughters. As Sarah delves into her family’s past, she finds a long chain of heartbreak — of mothers who failed their daughters, who then failed their own daughters in turn. What Sarah must figure out, before the ominous happenings at Amber House end in a fresh tragedy, is whether it’s possible to change the past and thereby change the present and future…
If you’re a fan of Gothic novels, Amber House is like a double fudge brownie a la mode. It has all the troubled history and spookiness your heart could desire, along with the aforementioned secret passages, and it’s so much fun to read. Fans of ghost stories and time-travel stories should also pick this one up, though it’s not technically about ghosts or time travel in the classic sense.
If I have any complaints, it’s that one favorite character gets no resolution to his problem, but there are strong hints that this is the plot of book two. Amber House is terrific rainy-night reading. Pass the ice cream.
This book was all over the place. I didn't hate it, but I definitely didn't love it. Also I felt like the last hour or so (I listened to this on audiobook) shoe-horned in an entirely new plotline which felt rushed and weird. I just don't know how I feel. It felt amateur.
О сюжете совсем коротенько - все как всегда: таинственный мрачный дом, юные герои, призраки прошлого, любовный треугольник. А вот об исполнении поподробнее. Не в курсе деталей этого соцветия авторов, но скажу сразу: не знала б, что их там трое, ни за что бы не поверила. Все вполне себе ровно и единообразно.
Героиня очень приятная. Читала множество отрицательных отзывов, но меня она не раздражала. Может, потому что в чем-то близка, и я понимала почти каждый ее мотив и поступок. Насчет парней... И плюс и минус треугольника в том, что он не номинальный, заради тренда, когда кандидата два, но все мы знаем, кого выберет героиня. Здесь оба ребятенка вполне себе привлекательны, и выбор до последнего остается загадкой. Я такое не люблю, но уважаю авторов за смелость.
Далее: призраки. История, в общем-то, простая, но жуткая. Подано хорошо, избитыми, но действенными приемами. Не скажу, что сильно перепугалась, но атмосферой прониклась, ножки во время чтения подобрала и пару часов избегала зеркал xDDD
Для ценителей ужастиков, призраков, YA и геометрии - самое то. Правда, это первая книга трилогии, так что сами понимаете. Не знаю, буду ли читать продолжение, хотя... там-то героиня уже определившаяся, и должно быть поменьше любовных терзаний )))
В общем, думайте сами, решайте сами, а я неплохо провела время, хоть и с оговорками.
Пы.сы. Вроде сие переводится где-то на просторах тырнета.
Delightful and winning! Engrossing, riveting-the very definition of a page-turner! YA, yes, but suitable for older readers too. The authors do a marvelous job of introducing an autistic child character and making him a full-on protagonist. I want to give this book 16 stars, as I was so totally absorbed, and can’t put it out of my mind. Over the months, I’ve read a few YA books that had this strong an effect on me: “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer,” “Divergent,” the “13 to Life” series, “The Girl in the Clockwork Collar;” and now “Amber House” takes its place in that exalted pantheon. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
Gently budding romance; a dilemma between two possible romantic interests; Supernatural; time travel; precognition; the rock and the hard place of being a maturing adolescent vs. the issues of the parent; potential divorce; an autistic but very much beloved younger sibling; learning to trust vs. learning to discern-this wonderful, precious, story has it all-and I certainly hope for more novels in the future!
I was so caught up in the Amber House I had a hard time retrieving myself when I finished reading it. Now I feel like I should demand a follow up book from the epilogue. :-)
I got this ARC from netgalley.com and was finally able to devote a day to read it. You know how they say people who don't read have only one life, but people who read have tons of lives? This book makes me feel like I've lived another life. The writing is beautiful, perfectly descriptive, and hauntingly accurate. I totally got that a 16 year old was the main character. I was taken back to myself as a 16 year old and stayed there the entire novel. And Sam is such a typical upbeat 5 year old, irrepressible and enthusiastic. I fell in love with him.
The theme of the novel, that a house can hold echoes of the past, is unique, not something I remember reading before.
I will recommend this book to students who enjoy paranormal books and books about family dynamics. Oh, and anyone who has no idea what they want to read.
After her grandmothers death, Sarah and her family stay at the Amber house estate till her mothers sells it. But Sarah feels drawn to the mysteries surrounding ever surface of the home and she and her brother come up with a plan for them to stay a little while longer. Jackson, a friend she meet at the house tempts her with finding lost treasure buried somewhere in the home and while they go to explore Amber house starts to come alive with the echo's of the haunted past of Sarah's ancestors, threatening the one person that she cares most about.
Mmm! There is nothing like a good old fashion ghost story complete with a haunting house to kick start your imagination into overdrive.
Amber House was deliciously mysterious and delicately detailed. I loved the setting. The atmosphere was perfect. The house might as well be it's own character. It's rich with the finest descriptions really connecting us to generations of past memories and echos that will show us it's secrets. This was very refreshing, well done and very creepy.
Sarah was a very likeable and easy chacter to follow this adventure with. She's a simply girl who has a strict mother and a distant but loving father, and a adorable little brother named Sam who will steal your heart the minute you meet him. There is a slight love triangle here, but it's not something I mined. I know which guy I want Sarah to end up with and I think for once I'm on the right team.
The storyline itself is very intricate. There is a lot happening but at the same time it feels like pieces to a puzzle all falling into place. It's easy to follow and lose yourself within these pages.
All in all, I had a great time with this book. It's a spine-tingling story beautifully combining the past, present and future. It has such an amazing flavor of haunted and heart. I heard that this is a planned trilogy which is wonderful since I'm anxious to see what happens with these characters and Amber house next.
Quick & Dirty: An old house holds the key to a gift in Sarah’s family. A type of time travel mixed with ghosts and mystery creates an amazingly complex plot with beautiful writing to boot.
Opening Sentence: I was almost sixteen the first time my grandmother died.
Give me a second while my head stops reeling. Ever read the Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl) by Eoin Colfer? Well this book has about the same mind boggling situation of time travel that makes sense and yet doesn’t at the same time (yeah, it confused me too.)
The story starts at Ida Parsons’ funeral. People came from all over the state just to see the inside of the Amber House (not many of them even knew Ida well.) To Sarah Parsons, her grandmother was a crazy woman that she hardly knew. But after a night of staying in the Amber House, Sarah realizes it’s more than just schizophrenia that plagued all of the ladies of the Amber House. She starts to see visions from the past — echoes — whenever she touches an old object or her emotions are high. According to Jackson, the grandson of the house keeper, the “gift” is genetic and they can’t hurt Sarah. This gift isn’t so bad once she gets used to it. She might see a dance in the ballroom or her ancestors kissing in the gazebo. But then the visions start to become more recent — her mother as a younger kid. A mystery starts to unfold that started hundreds of years ago. And it soon threatens her younger brother Sam. Sarah soon finds out that the visions aren’t one-way, but can she accept the fact that she can talk to ancestors from the past? Can she even survive the massive sixteenth birthday party her mother plans to have in order to up the price of the Amber House? The authors spin a marvelously complex story about time, love and family.
I deserve a slap on my hand for poor reading. Really, my English teacher would be disappointed in me for not catching the phrasing of the first page of the book (so much for preparing for the SAT…) I didn’t know this story would have to do with time travel at all until the end — but the book warns us in the very first three paragraphs if you read close enough (see notable scene.) I’m not sure it would have changed how I read the book, but it would have at least prepared me for the major twist at the end of the book.
I love the characters in the book. Almost all of the characters are deep and complex. They all aren’t surface deep. Even the background characters such as the Senator or Jackson’s mother aren’t as they appear to be. But the real characters that shine are Sarah and Sammy. She overcomes her flaws and steps out of her own shoes to understand her mother and the other people in her life. Sarah develops so much throughout the book — she became a totally different character by the end (cough, cough.)
The love triangle I thought could have been better developed. Mainly just the transition between the two was abrupt (no I’m not telling who she ends up with — I didn’t even know until the end.) But the two guys that are vying for her attention are defiantly swoon-worthy. Richard Hathaway is bad-boy supreme with a major ego issue but is broken and has his own issues he keeps hidden. Jackson is a quiet, mysterious guy with his own secrets he’s hiding. Both are great guys. But can Sarah choose?
This is a great book! Although this is considered a horror, don’t let that scare you away. You can go to bed with the assurance that it will not give you nightmares or have you paranoid during the day. The ending is a major cliffhanger, yet not at the same time. Really the book could end like it did, but it’s already known that it will be a trilogy. I have no idea where the next book will go — there are so many possibilities its impossible to guess. But maybe you can figure it out. So read this impeccable (maybe my vast vocabulary will make it up to my English teacher…) story! You’re only losing time by dilly dallying!
I was almost sixteen the first time my grandmother died.
It was mid-October. Warm still, like summer, but the trees were wearing their scarlets and golds. Back home, in Seattle, we had evergreens and faded browns. Those absurdly vivid colors along the banks of the Severn River were the first thing I fell in love with–autumn the way it was intended.
It’s hard, now, to remember that first day, like looking at a photo underwater–the image shifting, in motion, never quite in focus. But there’s a part of me that doesn’t forget. And it’s important to tap into that part, to will myself to remember. Sometimes, if I really concentrate, the memories come flooding back. All of them. Beginning to end. Then back again to the beginning. A full circle.
FTC Advisory: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic provided me with a copy of Amber House. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Sarah Parsons returns to her family’s estate after her grandmother’s death in order to assist her mother in selling the old mansion. After spending some time in the house, Sarah begins to find clues regarding her family history and she becomes connected to the house in a very serious way. Sarah begins experiencing echoes left by former “residents” and in time, comes to unravel the mysteries surrounding her mother and grandmother and the very intense legacy of Amber House.
I really enjoyed Sarah as a character because she was easy to relate to as she was a typical teenage girl thrown into an atypical situation. She reacts to certain incidents and characters in a way that shows her shyness, anger or understanding in a wonderful way. Sammy, Sarah’s little brother, plays a very significant role in this novel and as a reader I was very invested in his storyline as his innocence heightened nearly all aspects of the plot. I felt the same frustration and anger over Sarah’s mother as she did and I really appreciated learning more of her story as the novel progressed.
The romance in this novel is an interesting one. There are times when it screamed love triangle but don’t fear, it is so much more complicate than that! Jackson and Richard are polar opposites, both of whom were interesting characters in their own way. I really enjoyed how “real” Richard seemed to me, he was perfectly created to represent that guy in high school. You know, the one all the girls want to date and all the guys want to be even though he is rather douchey? That’s Richard. Jackson, on the other hand, was the best friend who really seemed to understand Sarah and her needs. However, he had a slightly mysterious edge to him that made him more lovable, in my opinion. The best part was that both guys seemed to have their own agenda and as the story progressed, their motives are revealed and emotions become conflicted. I won’t say that it was a slow burn romance between any of the characters, because it is a lot more intricate than that. However, I will tell you that as the story progresses, the romance unfolds slowly and sneakily, and when it finally comes full circle I was left with my emotions spilling over a tiny bit. The best part about Amber House is that though the romance plays a great part in the story, it isn’t the central storyline. Family takes precedence and things play out how they must as important decisions are made.
My main gripe with this novel was that upon finishing it I was enraged and confused because it ended on a note that left so many questions unanswered. I was seriously underprepared for the epilogue and I felt led astray. However, I resorted to Google and after serious searching, I found that Amber House is in fact, part of a trilogy. I breathed a sigh of relief. Bad feelings gone, all is well, and so on. Now my only issue is my impatience in waiting for its sequel!
I found this novel while I was spending time browsing through Netgalley and after reading the blurb (and how gorgeous is this cover?!) I decided to give it a try. Admittedly, I wish I had waited a month or so to read it because it is a perfect read for autumn weather but nonetheless it is a book that has stuck with me months after reading the last page. Amber House is a gothic tale stirring up feelings reminiscent of Bronte’s windy moors and King’s room 237. It is a novel that kept me up way past my bedtime and had me falling asleep with the lights on. For those of you looking for a good “autumn read,” I highly suggest you pick up Amber House. It contains all of the amazing horror elements to keep you looking over your shoulder while also molding in intricate relationships and a deliciously vibrant plot.
Shrouded in mystery and full of eerie adventures, Amber House captivated me from start to finish. I loved following Sarah and Richard through the house, exploring the many passageways in search of treasure. Learning about the deep, sorrowful past of the house through Sarah’s visions and her ancestor’s journal was just as riveting as the search for treasure and, truth be told, I adored everything about this novel.
Sarah’s autistic brother, Sam, is my absolute favorite. His sheer energy and penchant for exploration, as well as his love for his sister, quickly endeared him to my heart. Though he’s just a small child, he added a lot of depth and character to the novel, and I am so glad the authors decided to create him the way they did. It’s hard to explain, but I think you’ll understand when you read the novel; he’s absolutely amazing.
Richard was a dreamy addition to the novel, and I love that, like Sarah, he has special connections to the house, and more importantly, to Sarah. While I picked up that he is tied to the house very early on in the novel, I couldn’t put my finger on his ability until he blatantly stated what it was, and at that point, I nearly died, especially with the revelation it brought. This story is spun very well, and I honestly cannot wait for the sequel (but readers, rest assured, there is no cliffhanger in this novel and it could very well stand alone, but thank God it’s not going to!).
Sarah’s mother, ever the rich snob, drove me absolutely batty, but without her antics and the crossing between rich and poor, I think the story would have fallen flat. The addition of high society characters and a love triangle or sorts made the story all that more interesting and, of course, the fact that the novel takes place in Maryland is another plus. Having visited many of the places described in the novel, I felt an even deeper connection with the characters and plot—I just love when that happens!
I did not like the “Good Mother” spider, though. Not one bit… but I am also under the impression that this spider is a figment of the authors’ imaginations. At least, I hope she is, because if not, I’m in a world of trouble. I did Google the spider to see if she existed after I was creeped out of my mind while reading, but to no avail. I tweeted one of the authors about the spider as well and am wating to hear back... and I'm just dying to know! Especially when Richard says that these spiders are native to the area (meaning MD) and aren’t on the West coast, where Sarah is from… I mean, what a way to give a girl a heart attack as she’s reading the novel in the dead of night… suddenly I felt like a billion little spiders were in my bed with me… (Update--I heard back from the authors and the Good Mother does NOT exist... thank God).
But moving on from all that creepy spider talk, I want to live in Amber House. I don’t necessarily want the abilities that Sarah has, though it is pretty cool, but I’d love to even just visit the place… it sounds so magnificent, with its sheer size, not to mention the maze it totes, or the stables and dock… I really want to live here. Too bad it doesn’t exist (right?).
Sarah Parsons is not really excited when she is forced to travel to Maryland with her feuding parents and little brother to attend her estranged Grandmother's funeral. But once she's there, Sarah and her little brother Sammy both feel some sort of intrinsic connection to the family's ancestral home, Amber House, that neither can explain. So they manipulate their Mom into staying for a few weeks until they can sell the house and everything in it. During that time Sarah discovers that there might be a hidden fortune in diamonds and decides to find it with the help of Jackson, who is a distant cousin and the grandson of her Grandma's housekeeper Rose. She also finds herself falling into the world of Richard Hathaway, the son of a Senator (who is her Mom's old boyfriend), as her Mom gets ready to throw her a lavish sixteenth birthday party that will double as an open house. But as the day of the party draws near, more and more family secrets become exposed leaving Sarah to wonder if perhaps there is a sinister presence in the house after all. And if there is, can she save herself and her family from it before it's too late? So I was not really expecting to be drawn into this book as much as I was. Then again, as a reader I can never resist a good family secret. I loved Sarah because she was a very realistic, average teenager. She never knew quite how to feel about either of her parents due to her Mom's cold tactless behavior and her Dad's infidelity. As the constant caretaker of her autistic little brother Sammy, Sarah also feels like it's her responsibility to protect him no matter what, because she has an unexplainable psychic connection to him and always knows where he is. She does find out that there are reasons behind her Mom's seemingly unexplainably mean behavior and that she has suffered a lot in her life. Sarah gets to discover that nothing is black and white in the real world, which fleshes out the side characters very nicely. There is a love triangle that is not quite a love triangle, a search for lost family treasure that turns into something much more dangerous and the possiblity of changing the past. Sarah inherits the ability to see and be part of echos of the past that haunt the house. She is privy to the actual happenings of her ancestors in a way that makes me geek out cause I'm a total history nerd. I loved that the house was almost alive with the energy of the past. The ending was perfect in my opinion and seriously made me want to cry because I found it beautiful. Overall, one of the best books I've read so far this year and I highly recommend it to fans of romance, Gothic novels, ghosts, time travel and history.
VERDICT: 5/5 Stars
*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is October 1st, 2012.*
I love me a good ghost story! This was a fun ghost story that kept my attention from the beginning. The end threw me for a loop and I am glad to know that there are more to come because if that was it then I would not be a happy camper!
Sarah is at her grandmother's house for her grandmother's funeral. She hardly knew her grandmother and had never visited her at Amber House. Amber House is one of the most talked about houses in Maryland and Sarah is anxious to see what all the fuss is about.
Sarah meets Jackson while at Amber House. Jackson and his grandma, Rose, live on the property. Rose took care of Sarah's grandma and helps around Amber House. Jackson appears to know quite a bit about Sarah before he even meets her. She is very perplexed by this and a little put off by it. Jackson tells Sarah about a lost treasure and asks her to help him find it though so she gets to know him more and starts to understand how he knows so much about her.
Sarah's mother hates Amber House and does not want to stay there at all. It is only after Sarah and her little brother, Sam, come up with a plan that she gives in and they end up staying for the 10 days that they are in Maryland. She warns Sarah that the house makes funny "noises" but Sarah and Sammy are excited to be able to stay and explore the house.
The next day, Sarah meets Richard who is the son of one of her mother's friends. Sarah's mother decides to throw Sarah a Sweet 16 party at Amber House and Richard is put in charge of helping Sarah meet some friends. Sarah's mom thinks that the party will help her sell Amber House so they can get back to Seattle as soon as possible.
There was a love triangle (of course) but it wasn't too horrible. The relationship between Jackson and Sarah was a little more muted than that of Sarah and Richard. Sarah's mom is also very quick to point out that the boys must want something from her because everyone uses everyone else so you are constantly wondering (as is Sarah) if Sarah is being used or if these boys honestly like her.
The ending was a little confusing for me but it's only because it left me with more questions than when I started the book. Like I said though, there are more books to come so I think that will answer a lot of those questions.
I enjoyed this book and thought there were some really great spooky moments. I liked all the treasure hunts but I wasn't sure about Sarah's "gift". Sometimes it seemed a little cheesy the way she was able to "see" the past and some of the flashbacks were a little pointless but for the most part it was a great read!
Povestile din trecut m-au ametit si incurcam personajele, dar romanul mi-a placut, a fost o lectura usoara, de relaxare. Era greu sa nu fiu atrasa in reteaua de secrete din Casa de Chihlimbar sau sa nu il ador pe fratele lui Sarah. Suspans, fantome, supranatural si un triunghi amoros fortat, care m-a enervat in anumite momente. Dar o carte interesanta, sunt curioasa ce surprize ma asteapta in volumul 2 :).
What a great ghost story! It wasn't scary or too creepy, just intriguing. I wanted to keep reading to find out what Sarah was seeing. The description of Amber House, the maze, the regatta racing, the secret passage ways and everything else was compelling. The perfect summer book. This is only the first book in a trilogy. And this book just came out, so there's a long wait until the next book.
I knew I had to get my hands on this one when I first heard of it and I am glad to say it did not disappoint at all. Yes it was Gothic goodness mixed in with horror and just all around creepiness. I have a tendency to read late at night and I found myself paranoid about the littlest sounds that I heard thanks to this book and my overactive imagination.
The story circles around Sarah. Her grandmother has passed away leaving Amber House to her mother. Amber House has been passed down from generation to generation in her family except now Sarah's mom wants to get rid of it and sell it. Sarah and her brother Sam devise a plan to prolong their stay for a while due to their curiosity of the place and with the help of Jackson find the diamonds that are said to be hidden in the house somewhere.Sarah never could have imagined the dark secrets and unspeakable horrors Amber House held.
When reading this I felt like I was watching a movie. Amber House holds imprints of the past and the women of the family can see them through echoes. Which is already more then what Sarah bargained for but when those echoes turn out to be more then what they seem things get even more creepy then what they already were. There were light moments in the book but for the most part it was not a light read at all. Sarah discovers so much about her ancestors and barely any of it was good. There was so many horrible crimes, betrayals, deceit, family secrets and the list goes on. Another thing that made the book interesting was the relationship between Sarah and her mother, they had some serious issues to deal with. I really didn't like the mom especially with the way she kept having Sarah taking care of her little brother Sam who is autistic because she didn't know how to deal with him. And then the way she was towards Sarah just irked me. Selfish would describe the mom for majority of the book in my opinion.
Now on to the ending of the book, I loved it but I have soooo many questions. It's one of those endings that wraps everything up but now you have new questions in which you actually want a second book. Overall I really enjoyed reading Amber House.
Holy friggin WHOA. Definitely better than I thought it would be when I started, hell, much better than I thought it was halfway through. I didn't like the story early on, I didn't think it was for me. With all the rich kids and parties and sailing and her mom worrying over money and big lavish parties that Sarah wasn't remotely interested in to begin with, there wasn't much I could find to relate to other than the fact that I didn't like her mom. Parents who don't listen to their kids annoy the shit out of me. Parents who plan out their kids' lives piss me the hell off. Two strikes against Mama Parsons. I liked Richard to an extent, until he chased after her like some jilted husband and felt the need to slap Jackson upside the face. Jackson was a much more interesting and complex character, and overall a better fit with Sarah. And can we talk about Sam? I loveloveloved Sam.
The book REALLY started getting interesting after the party (although I did fangirl a little over the dress, okay fine yes it sounds gorgeous). All the visions started piecing together and I finally *got* it, I guess. Everything made sense when she had to go looking for Sam. I could see it all as if it were already a movie. Also, was it just me or did anyone else feel like they'd just watched Xmen Days of Future Past by the end, with the way everything rewound itself? That almost gave me whiplash. Definitely turned out a lot better than I expected, and I'll look for the second one!
Amazing! Amazing! Oh my gosh, I love this book so much! This is the second time I've read it, so I knew a little bit, but still, this book will never fail to rock my world.
Sarah and her little brother Sammy come with their mother to Amber House for their grandmother's funeral. The huge house has something about it, the history, maybe, or the rumors of diamonds, that makes the two siblings want to stay. With a little manipulation, they get their wish. Then Sarah starts seeing images that can't be real. Secrets are opened up like a fresh wound while Amber House is prepared to sell to the highest bidder.
This book is the best, if you couldn't tell from when I freaked out a little bit. The characters are so complex. Sarah is a normal teenage girl with a competitive streak in her. Sammy is the cutest little bugger in the world! You can't help but laugh with him. Jackson was fantastic. Richard was less so.
The way this book is set up is so perfect. The secrets unearthed are put in at just the right moment, the suspense is the same way, creepy but exhilarating. The romance wasn't overdone, but just the right touch. True, there's a love-triangle, but I'm perfectly fine with it.
To understand, you must read it. Read it. I can't wait to read Neverwas!
Lush and compelling, this is a great novel considering it was written by three people. (Have they really never heard the phrase, “Too many cooks spoil the broth?” But I digress …) By turns chilling and intoxicating, Amber House sucks you into the realms of “what if’s” and “might-have-been’s.” The storytelling is (for the most part) fluid, and while the supporting characters have varying degrees of depth, the inclusion of an honestly rendered family struggling with one member’s autism brings a grounding element to what is overall an eerie, atmospheric read. Although I often wanted to smack the heroine upside the head for her behavior towards her parents, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it demonstrates the skill with which she has been depicted. And while the descriptions of clothes and gowns may not be deep enough to satisfy fans of Luxe or Gossip Girls, elements of mystery and the supernatural are sure to appeal to fans of Cassandra Clare and Michelle Zink.
I've always been an avid reader but my glory days of reading was as a teen on summer break when I'd check out dozens of titles from the library and go on a literary bender. I have such fond memories of hot summer nights staying up until the wee hours to finish a thriller that I just couldn't put down. The end was always a rush of sweet relief and some sadness that it was over.
Reading Amber House took me right back to those halycon days of late nights and endless yearning for adventures and for the cute boy. From the moment Sarah steps into her family home, I was there with her - peering over her shoulder, cringing from the shadows, and catching flashes from the corner of my eye. I was so engrossed in the story that I stayed up well past my adult bedtime to finish the story, and I'm eagerly anticipating more stories about Amber House and its women.
Full of suspense, this book is not your usual ghost story. This writing contemplates how the past affects future generations all entrancing the reader using mystery, secrets, the supernatural, teenage romance and more. It pulls on the heart strings as Sarah relates to her younger brother and attempts to understand her seemingly cold hearted mother. The authors Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed have created an admirable piece of work that keeps you reading all the way to the very end. Although this book will end up as a purchase in our library, it is destined to spend little time on the shelf.