Genres: Gothic, Historical, Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult
Series: The Amber House Trilogy #1
Published by Scholastic on October 1, 2012
"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 lost diamonds in its walls.
But all of that is about to change. 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. She grows closer to both Jackson and a young man named Richard Hathaway, whose family histories are each deeply entwined with her own. But when the 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.
I’m normally very careful with reading books by more than one author. I feel like most of the time you can tell that two different people are telling you a story because everyone has their own unique and defined writing style. But I found AMBER HOUSE to be both fascinating and intriguing and never once did the writing style trip me up. It was constant throughout the novel and easily immersed me into a world full of history.
The concept of the book is great. Sarah sees the huge house that runs in the family called Amber House and the millions of dollars worth of historical antiques inside its wall for the very first time after her Grandmother’s funeral. But while there, she began experiencing what she learned her Grandmother referred to as echoes. The females in her family all have a certain gift where if they touch certain objects, they’re transported into the past to relive memories that took place in this very house. From bouts of insanity and illegal slave trading, the house is full of dark mysteries and hidden secrets.
As a humanities girl, I really enjoyed learning about history through the book, but the problem is that sometimes the explanations evolving around historical backgrounds got a bit too longwinded. Paragraphs upon paragraphs is a little too much history and not enough story for me. I often found myself skimming the long explanations to get back to the main plot of exploration and learning about ones past. I think the book would have been slightly better if there was more focus on character development than unnecessarily long historical explanations. I also think that the book could have done without its love triangle. Though barely existent, it didn’t much add to the story at all, though it wasn’t bothersome to me either. It was just there when it didn’t need to be.
All in all, I enjoyed this one, but I know it’s not for everyone. It’s for those who really, truly love history, but don’t go into it expecting a historical fiction. You can learn about America’s past, especially the era evolving around slavery, but the emphasis on history isn’t for everyone. This is recommended to those who really enjoy history in school (like me) and prefer reading about slight mysteries over romance.