Battle of the Beasts: House of Secrets, Book 2
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Battle of the Beasts is the second book in the House of Secrets series coauthored by the late Ned Vizzini and Chris Columbus, director of the first two Harry Potter movies and writer of the scripts for The Goonies and Gremlins. Kids who dug the first in the series are in for more of the same nonstop action here with the same high dose of action-adventure violence. Luckily for the three kids at the center of the story, they can't be killed by their nemesis the Wind Witch. She possesses one kid and comes out of her body through her mouth, tries to blow apart another with wind (yelling "Why can't you just...die! Die! Die!" at a 9-year-old), and stabs the third, with no lasting results. One character is hung upside-down, covered in cheese, and set upon by rats, but he survives. Other characters aren't that lucky: Two men are thrown in front of a bus, some fall from cliffs, some get hit by gunfire and bombs, and some are sacrificed to giant beasts. This sequel's low on other types of mature content: Brands are mentioned in passing, a Brit shouts out "bloody hell" a few times, Cordelia gets a few flirty kisses, and Brendan spits out an alcoholic drink. One character finds himself tempted by power and fame and learns his lesson about what's really important.
What's the story?
Walker siblings Cordelia, Brendan, and Eleanor made a triumphant return from the dangerous fantasy world of Denver Kristoff novels at the end of Book 1. Now they're enjoying newfound wealth and their fancy private school education about as much as a trip to the orthodontist. Brendan's getting bullied, Eleanor doesn't feel like she fits in, and Cordelia is just starting to get asked out by a cute boy when her tooth falls out -- embarrassing and weird. Then her skin starts to wrinkle, and then more teeth fall out. What's going on? It's not long before the kids realize the Wind Witch can't possibly be as banished as they'd hoped. Yup, Denver Kristoff's power-mad daughter is back and out for revenge. Tossing the kids right back into another trio of her father's novels is only the beginning. She needs the Book of Doom and Desire that only the Walkers can summon so she can rule the world. Maybe a couple ravenous tigers in the Roman Colosseum will help persuade the siblings to give her what she wants. No? How about Nazi cyborgs? Man-eating monsters, perhaps?
Is it any good?
BATTLE OF THE BEASTS: HOUSE OF SECRETS, BOOK 2 is another fun fantasy diversion for action-adventure lovers. Book 1 had the pirates and skeletons and swashbuckling mayhem. Book 2 is another laundry list of action elements kids love -- plus Nazi cyborgs. It's pretty smart of coauthors Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini to pick a formula whereby kids move through three fantasy worlds in each book. Sick of Rome and the Nazis already? Suddenly you're on a mountaintop with strange monks fighting giant beasts.
Still, one part of their fun formula doesn't hold up this time: The House of Secrets is abandoned by the Walker kids partway through the story. Is the house out of secrets already?
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about real and fantasy worlds. Why was it so tempting to Brendan especially to stay in Rome? Why did Cordelia dislike the Roman emperor right away?
Can you think of a book you'd actually like to live in? What would be the drawback?
Were you excited for this sequel? Will you keep reading the series?
|Authors:||Chris Columbus, Ned Vizzini|
|Topics:||Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Robots|
|Publisher:||Balzer + Bray|
|Publication date:||March 25, 2014|
|Number of pages:||480|
|Publisher's recommended age(s):||8 - 12|
|Available on:||Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle|