Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Dan Poblocki
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; Library ed. edition
Marcus, Poppy, Dash and Azumi are desperately trying to find a way out of Larkspur House by solving riddle after riddle as they are led through the house and up to the roof. For a while there are two Azumi's, each claiming to be the real girl. Cornered on the roof top the real Azumi is revealed and the children are forced to escape across the roof. Unfortunately they find themselves trapped above a zombie forest greenhouse and the glass gives way dropping them back into the house. Azumi's "sister" rescues the children and leads them out of the house and onto the grounds. They meet Cyrus for the second time in this book and are torn between believing Cyrus or Azumi's sister. Marcus throws poison on Cyrus and begins to hum his Uncle's song which reveals that Azumi's sister is the monster that is Larkspur House. Marcus stands his ground in front of the monster while the other's escape and hide. Marcus is killed and the book ends with the others trying to decide what to do next.
This book is exciting! The pace is frantic and sustained throughout the story with intense moments of spooky haunting and ghostly confrontation. The tone and pace are spot on for those who like chills and thrills at a moderate level. The characters are solid and true throughout and act consistently within their prescribed roles, descriptions, and motivations. Tension is created not only by the house and situation, but also the obscurity of who is trustworthy and real, or not. Exposing the answer to these questions is done in a fashion that releases the established tension with satisfaction and sets the groundwork for the next denouement. There is no overt moral or theme to the storyline beyond trust and friendship. Perhaps an overarching theme will present itself if the story every reaches a conclusion. A weakness of this series is the lack of conclusion at the end of each book. It makes a reader eager for the next novel but also leaves one groping for satisfaction as well. It would be nice to have at least a partial sense of closure after enduring all of the drama with the characters through the book. A wonderful and gripping read for those who do not scare easily.
*Contains mild violence.