Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Keywords: horror, magic, memories
Format Read: Hardcover
Goodreads | Indiebound
Before I dive into the contents, I want to mention the cover. The picture doesn't do it justice. And yes, girl in fancy dress isn't anything crazy. But on the hardcover I have, the title is a shimmery mirage, and you can only see it if you turn it in the right light. Otherwise, it blends straight into the background. It's beautiful, and I think it fits extremely well with the story and the premise behind the exploration of this old family mansion.
This was a rather slow-moving book, but not in a way that made it less interesting. There was a ton of backstory for each character, and I felt like I was actually getting to know Sarah and her little brother as they got to know their past family and the secrets of Amber House. Their grandmother passes away, and they're staying at the house while their mom tries to plan events and showings to get the house sold. Of course, they begin to grow attached and do some exploring of their own and learn a whole lot more than what meets the eye.
Sarah discovers a genetic trait she, like the other women in her family, possesses, and Jackson, the boy who lives on the property, helps explain it to her. She can see "echoes," or memories, of people before her. This is how she gets more information on the house and the people who once lived there. Like I said earlier, this story wasn't super action-y or quick-moving. Instead, it relied on character-driven stories and memories and dreams, and the authors recounted tales many different ways.
This was both good and bad. In a way, I felt much closer to the characters and what was happening to them. But, at the same time, jumping from Sarah's present, where she flits around to parties with Richard, then back to the past, then to the further past, then back to present, made for a bit of a confusing plot to follow. I had many instances where I had to go back and figure out which characters lived when because there was so much overlap.
Other than being a bit confused and startled the first time I read the ending, it was a haunting and chilling tale with compelling characters and backstories. There just wasn't enough drive between events to make this a solidly awesome book, but if characters and still movement are your thing, this book is for you.