The Amber House series follows Sarah, a teenager staying at her family's allegedly-haunted centuries-old estate near Annapolis, Maryland. Sarah learns the women of her family possess psychometric abilities that enable them to see "echoes" of the past. The ability of a neighboring family to see premonitions of the future allows for time-bending possibilities that Sarah and her loved ones must choose either to pursue or reject. The first novel in the series, Amber House, is classified as a mystery paranormal-romance, with elements of Gothic horror, science fiction and magical realism. Kirkus categorized the second installment, Neverwas, as a supernatural dystopian thriller. The books are written by New York Times bestselling author Kelly Moore and her daughters Tucker Reed and Larkin Reed.
Book I: Amber House
The first book in the series was published on October 1, 2012 by Scholastic's Arthur A. Levine Books imprint. The book introduces protagonist Sarah Parsons and her extended family, and tasks Sarah with solving the mystery of locating Captain Joseph Foster's fortune of lost diamonds before her sixteenth birthday, when her mother, Anne, intends to put Amber House on the market.
Book II: Neverwas
Neverwas is the second installment in the Amber House Trilogy. The novel was released by Scholastic's Arthur A. Levine Books imprint on January 7, 2014.
Picking up three months after Amber House left off, Sarah and her family relocate from the Pacific Northwest to live at Amber House with her aunt Maggie. Unbeknownst to Sarah, her actions at the end of Amber House propelled her and her loved ones into an alternate timeline: North America is a collection of separate nations including the American Confederation of States, which still struggles with segregation and sexism against women, and Nazis control Europe. Sarah must use her ability to see "echoes" to remember the way things used to be, and with the help of Jackson's precognition, attempt to reset the universe once again.
Critical reception for Amber House has been overwhelmingly positive, with Kirkus Reviews praising Sarah and contrasting her with Twilight's Bella Swan.
In a starred review, Publishers Weekly described Amber House as a "complex tale of family secrets and lingering loss," and added:
- 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.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana also praised the book's plot in a starred review, saying its unexpected ending elevated it above the young adult genre.
Kirkus was the first to review the second novel in the trilogy. Deeming it "a stark departure" from the preceding novel, Kirkus found the "authors' vision of this alternate, broken United States" to be "inconceivably frightening."
- Reading Age: Grades 9 through 12, according to publisher.
- Read Aloud Age: Grades 5 and up.
This book contains moments of suspense and elements of Gothic horror; mild language; oblique reference to a rape in the 1700s; an alcoholic character.
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