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Amber House Hardcover – October 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

There are no ghosts in Amber House, only currents of time and echoes of the lives once lived there. Women in Sarah’s family have always seen these echoes and most were labeled crazy. After her grandmother’s death, Sarah, her mother, and her five-year-old brother travel to Amber House to ready it for sale, and Sarah finds she, too, is seeing scenes from the past trapped in time. Despite a contemporary Maryland setting, the highly descriptive, lush prose and Sarah’s strong, first-person point of view lends an atmospheric, gothic feel to this first book in a planned trilogy, which stands alone quite well. Time shifts, ghostly apparitions, and a mansion that practically becomes another character, with its hedge maze and hundreds of years of hidden family secrets, serve as a backdrop to an extravagant sweet-sixteen masquerade ball and a hunt for lost diamonds. The mother-daughter author team’s deft handling of family dynamics, believable characterization, and twist on the now ubiquitous love triangle will leave readers eager for more. Grades 9-12. --Charli Osborne


"Those who think that this is a straightforward ghost story will be sorely mistaken:  This is a complex, layered tale that bends time and imagination, demanding to be read with all the lights on.  Move over Bella Swan: Sarah is a strong, admirable character who'd rather speak her mind than sulk and sigh over some hot guy.  Richly woven, with depth and swift plotting that will leave readers clamoring for the sequels." -- Kirkus Review

"The story flows, building suspense and enticing the reader from page one.  Additionally, the authors explore a variety of subjects with grace and tact, from Sarah's little brother's autism to ownership in her family's history.  The mother-daughters team even explores the relationship between Sarah and her distant and somewhat cold mother.  This is a novel, with two more forthcoming, that has the potential to appeal to a very large audience." -- Kaitlin Connors, Voice of Youth Advocates

"The ghosts of the past haunt the present in this complex tale of family secrets and lingering loss, first in a planned trilogy from Moore and her daughters. After the death of 15-year-old Sarah’s grandmother, Sarah and her family move into Amber House, a sprawling, centuries-old Maryland mansion that has been in the family ever since it was built. There, Sarah is beset by visions of the past, quickly learning that the house is almost alive, filled with ghosts and memories. As she and her new friend Jackson, the grandson of a longtime family friend, search for a treasure supposedly hidden in Amber House, they’re drawn into a mystery that spans generations, and only Sarah has the ability to fix things before tragedy strikes again. Lush descriptions and an intricate plot drive this intense tale, which straddles the lines between magical realism, fantasy, ghost stories, and horror, with a touch of romance and classic glamour. The result is something rich, strange, and utterly fascinating." - Publishers Weekly starred review


"After the death of their estranged grandmother, sixteen-year-old Sarah Parsons and her little brother accompany their mother on her return to the old family estate, Amber House, to settle finances and prepare to sell the house. Already a bit of an ice queen, Sarah’s mother is particularly cold and distant at her childhood home, and Sarah can understand why: although the spectacular mansion is both enormous and filled with luxury, the shadowy halls and dusty rooms are unsettling, to say nothing of the strange noises heard at night and the occasional echoes of childish laughter through the home. Things get even creepier as Sarah investigates the history of house with the help of two neighbors—both, of course, handsome and mysterious guys—and discovers that the sins of her ancestors may have cursed the house, a suspicion she thinks is confirmed when her brother inexplicably falls into a coma. Swift plotting combines with vivid, cinematic prose to make this gothic tale compulsively readable, and an unexpected ending elevates the story beyond the genre. Fans of ghost stories will appreciate the classic elements here, from the disembodied voices to the ancestral home with a sordid past, but they will also be pleasantly surprised by the time-bending element that comes into play in the latter half. Relationships are well developed, particularly Sarah’s mix of animosity toward and sympathy for her mother, while the romance between Sarah and a neighbor boy begins simply enough but is then organically revealed to be a fateful, life-changing connection that will leave readers swooning. Complex, elegant, and haunting, this is a book that deserves to be read in one sitting." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books starred review


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Product Details

  • Series: Amber House (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545434165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545434164
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #922,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ellepaul on October 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am completely and utterly blown away by the Amber House. It is the most deliciously scary, Gothic YA novels I have ever read! Now I find out that this is only the beginning of a trilogy, could this day not get any better!

Sarah Parson and her family are mourning the death of her maternal grandmother. Yet from almost the very first moment she steps inside the family home known as Amber House she begins to see things, echoes of her family's murky past. Yet Sarah is a very normal girl dealing with her parents separating, her brother Sammy who is mildly autistic, and two new boys in her life. Soon Sarah comes to realize that she has to try and change the past in order to save the future...

Now I do not like scary ghost stories but I have to say that Amber House has such a well put together plot that while I was a bit freaked out I was also mesmerized. There were so many surprising twists and the characters have such a real depth to them that I had trouble putting it down. The ending was amazing and yet so perfect. This was written in such an elegant yet real way that it is sure to be a classic one day. I look forward to seeing more from this very talented trio of authors.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on September 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Do you like haunted old houses with tangled histories and lots of secret passages? If so, Amber House is the mother lode. This is the kind of book where the heroine figures out there's a hidden staircase because, while it's nowhere to be seen in the house itself, a dollhouse based on the real house does have a staircase in that spot. If this appeals to you -- and it definitely appeals to me -- you need to read Amber House.

Our heroine is Sarah Parsons, whose family inherits, and temporarily moves into, the eponymous Amber House after Sarah's grandmother dies. Sarah has always had inexplicable abilities, and in her ancestral home, they're turned up to eleven: she can see echoes of the past as she explores the estate. Meanwhile, her autistic little brother is acting strangely, her mother is cold and obsessed with social climbing, and everyone seems to know more about the house's painful history than Sarah does.

For the romantic at heart, there's plenty to swoon over here -- a lavish Sweet Sixteen party, a sumptuous dress, and a love triangle. As for me, I was a little annoyed by the love triangle at first, both because love triangles are overdone and because, to my mind, one of Sarah's suitors is so clearly a better choice than the other, and Sarah doesn't always treat him well. However, the authors -- mother-and-daughters team Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed -- tie this plot element in nicely with the book's other themes in the end, and I ended up pleasantly surprised and glad it was there.

And what Amber House is really about, deep down, is mothers and daughters. As Sarah delves into her family's past, she finds a long chain of heartbreak -- of mothers who failed their daughters, who then failed their own daughters in turn.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Pat Smith on February 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has something for everyone. It has love triangles, history, magic, "haunted" houses, drama and mystery. The main character of our story is Sarah Parson whose family has lived in and owned a house called Amber House for many generations. Sarah and her family stay in the house for a little while after her grandmother dies. While living there Sarah learns that she is no ordinary girl but actually someone special. She comes from a long line of women who can see the past of those who lived in the house just by touching certain artifacts in the house. Sarah uses this gift to find a hidden treasure that is rumored to be on the estate. Everyone thinks the house is haunted because of its long history but the only ghosts in the house are the memories of those who used to live there.

For those who are into love triangles in steps Richard and Jackson. These boys are so different and come from two very different worlds. Richard is the poster boy that most girls drool over. He is blonde, tall, smooth, charming, and rich. I had my issues with him in the beginning. Everything came easy for him. The girls loved him and he had everything money could buy. This made him cocky and he had a dangerous streak that could get him into trouble. As I continued to read it turns out that things are not as perfect for Richard as it seems but if you want to know what is not perfect you will have to read the story. Then you have Jackson who I liked from the beginning and rooted for throughout the whole story. He is the opposite of Richard he is tall and dark. He has scars on him from an accident as a child. He is hard to get to know because in the beginning he kind of is distant but he opens up throughout the book and you get to see his sweet funny side. Turns out he has a secret though.
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Format: Kindle Edition
There are alot of cool features in this gothic-paranormal story of a young girl uncovering layers of family mystery in a big, old mansion of a house on the East Coast.

Sarah, her socialite mother, and autism-spectrum younger brother Sammy have all come to Amber House for the funeral of Sarah's grandmother.

It is the first time Sarah has been in the house, and as she and Sammy explore its many nooks, crannies, knick-knacks, and secrets, she finds out that touching certain objects will give her a vision of the past. Not just any past, but the complicated web of relatives who owned the house for the past 200 years.

And there's a boy, Jackson, the son of a woman who helped care for Sarah's Grandmother. And another boy, Richard, who is a senator's son and likes driving cars crazily fast and tacking sailboats in front of oncoming steamers and compliments Sarah by giving her points and telling her she "eats like a guy."

The coolness does revolve around the house. Pull out drawers, secret passages, oddly decorated rooms, etc. I thought up to halfway through the book that the coolness also revolved around past family members, but halfway through I kind of gave up matching family member to Sarah's visions and got hopelessly tangled up with who was who and who did what to whom during which period in the past. Even with the handy dandy family tree chart in the beginning, I wanted more of the puzzle pieces/clues about Heart House, the slave's children, the reason for Sarah's mother's coolness, etc to resolve themselves into a coherent whole about one, major trauma-- when it seems there were several traumas to keep track of.

I also was turned off by Richard and Sarah's attraction to him.
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