House of Secrets (Columbus and Vizzini novel)

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House of Secrets
First edition hardcover
Author Chris Columbus, Ned Vizzini
Cover artist Cliff Nielsen
Country United States
Language English
Series House of Secrets
Genre adventure, action, fantasy
Publisher Balzer + Bray
Publication date
April 23, 2013
Media type Print, e-book, audiobook
Pages 550 pages
ISBN 9780062192462
Followed by House of Secrets: Battle of the Beasts

House of Secrets is a 2013 children's novel by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini.[1] The book was first published on April 23, 2013 through Balzer + Bray and is the first book in the House of Secrets series. The book follows the three Walker family children as they attempt to find a secret book and rescue their parents in the process. Rights to the book were sold in 12 different foreign territories.[2]

Of the book, Columbus has commented that he was inspired to write the series after seeing the popularity of the Harry Potter series and its effect on young readers.[3] Columbus has also remarked that he views the book as a "cousin" to his 1985 film The Goonies.[4]


Cordelia, Brendan, and Eleanor Walker are less than pleased when their parents purchase the creepy Kristoff House, especially after a mysterious woman appears and demolishes it. She claims to be the "Wind Witch" and the daughter of the original owner of the house, Denver Kristoff. The three Walker children are horrified when they find that their parents are dead and that they're characters in a novel written by Kristoff himself. Having read the book previously, Cordelia knew that they would soon meet a new person, Will, a member of the National Flying Corp from World War One. They soon find strange things and learn that they are not just captured in a single book, but inside three of them. The Wind Witch suddenly appears before them, saying that their mission is to find a secret book that she can't touch. She also promises to release their captured parents if they do so. They go on an adventurous trip to find the book, escape from the hurdles and save their parents.[5]


  • Dr. Jacob Walker: A working professional doctor in San Francisco.
  • Mrs. Bellamy Walker: Wife of Dr. Jacob Walker.
  • Cordelia: Elder Daughter of the Walkers.(15 years old)
  • Brendan: Son of Mr and Mrs Walker.(12 years old)
  • Eleanor: Youngest of the three children of the Walkers.(8 years old)
  • Denver Kristoff: Owner of the Kristoff House and the Storm King
  • Dahlia Kristoff: Daughter of Mr.Kristoff, the Wind Witch and Queen Daphne
  • Will: A National Flying Corp in World War One who helps the Walkers' children.
  • Slayne: A courtier in the court of Queen Daphne.
  • Fat Jagger: A Colossus[disambiguation needed] in one of Kristoff's Books.
  • Captain Sangray: The cruel Captain of the Moray, a pirate ship.
  • Tranquebar: First mate in 'The Moray'.
  • Penelope Hope: The maid servant in Kristoff's house, she was brought back to life by Brendan and was killed by Sangray during a vivisection.


Columbus originally began working on the House of Secrets in 1999 as a screenplay entitled Stones of Time, but chose to adapt it into a novel after realizing that the film would be too expensive to produce at that time and also because of his obligations for the Harry Potter film series.[6][7] Due to his inexperience with writing novels, Columbus brought in Vizzini to assist in the writing of the novel.[6] Columbus and Vizzini wrote the book by the two e-mailing the first few chapters back and forth until they had "about 100 pages".[6] They sent the completed portion of the book to publishers and were picked up within about 1-2 days.[6] After completing the manuscript, Columbus and Vizzini solicited the advice of J.K. Rowling, who recommended that they add more character development to the novel as it "[moved] too fast".[8]

The two authors based the character of Denver Kristoff on writers such as Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft, and designed the book's chapters to end on cliffhangers akin to "the work of someone like Michael Crichton or even Charles Dickens".[9]


Film rights to the House of Secrets trilogy have been picked up by Rise Entertainment.[10] Columbus's 1492 Pictures will adapt the series from Columbus' initial screenplay and will begin principal photography in January 2014.[10]


Critical reception has been mostly positive.[11][12] Publishers Weekly and Commonsensemedia both gave favorable reviews for House of Secrets, with Publishers Weekly commenting that while the "kitchen sink aspect of the plot gives the story a somewhat crowded, frenetic feel", the "deft characterizations and wildly imaginative concept more than make up for it".[13][14] Kirkus Reviews gave a mixed review, remarking that the book had "plenty of punch" but that it "may still have trouble measuring up to the competition."[15]


  1. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (April 18, 2013). "Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini open up about 'House of Secrets'". LA Times. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Thielman, Sam. "Chris Columbus has ‘Secrets’". Variety. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Driscoll, Molly (January 5, 2012). "'Harry Potter' director Chris Columbus takes on children's books". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Couch, Aaron. "Chris Columbus on Debut Novel: It's the 'Cousin' of 'Goonies' (Q&A)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Lee, Stephan (Oct 24, 2012). "SHELF LIFE See the cover for 'House of Secrets' by 'Harry Potter' director Chris Columbus and 'Last Resort' writer Ned Vizzini -- EXCLUSIVE". EW. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d Deutsch, Lindsay (April 23, 2013). "Book trailer reveal: Director Chris Columbus' first novel". USA Today. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Guthrie, Julian. "Chris Columbus talks of 'House of Secrets' novel". SF Chronicle. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Sims, Andrew. "Chris Columbus explains how J.K. Rowling helped fine tune his new children’s book ‘House of Secrets’". Hypable. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "Siblings, Seafarers And 'Secrets' In Moviemaker's Novel". NPR. April 27, 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Block, Alex Ben. "Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures Signs 5-Year Deal With Rise Entertainment". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "Review: House of Secrets". Booklist. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "Review: House of Secrets". School Library Journal (BookVerdict). Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "Children's Review: House of Secrets". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "Review: House of Secrets". Commonsensemedia. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "Review: House of Secrets". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 

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