Arthur A. Levine Books, Hardcover, 9780545434164, 349pp.
Publication Date: October 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.
"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