Friday, April 29, 2011

Watcher in the Woods

The second book in the Dreamhouse Kings series by Robert Liparulo is called Watcher in the Woods. This book picks up immediately where House of Dark Shadows left off. The mother of the King family has just been kidnapped by some huge ogre and dragged off into one of the time portals hidden in the upstairs portion of the house. This abduction does not seem to be a random act. In this story the remainder of the King family works to devise a plan to find their mother and bring her back from wherever she has been taken. The difficulty is that there are 20 time portal rooms and they seem to randomly change where they take you. There must be some way to gather information and find out what rules govern their behavior.

We find Ed King and his children Xander, David, and Toria attempting to set up a mission control center where they will carry out their search. They need to be careful because most of the portals seem to drop them off in the middle of a combat zone. The Roman Colosseum, a civil war battlefield, or in the middle of a WWII Nazi tank fight. David and Xander are especially anxious to get started. However, their dad seems more interested in planning and talking than taking action. He knows more than he is telling his children and it is impacting how they view him.

The other chilling aspect of this tale is that some mysterious, battle-scarred man does not want the Kings anywhere near this house. He has used it unchecked for his own dark purposes for the 30 years that it sat vacant. Now he is using his considerable influence and sway in the town, not to mention his substantial wealth, to turn the locals against the King family and run them out of town. Over the course of the book, we learn that this wicked man is an ancient assassin from the Assyrian empire who originally came through the portals by mistake. What he is now after or trying to control is unclear. However, we learn that he commands the ogre that kidnapped the King children's mother. We also are introduced very briefly to the old man Jesse who helped to build the house of dark shadows. In his nursing home some 3000 miles away, a dream has alerted him that the assassin has somehow affected history. The old man who had hoped to never set foot anywhere near that house again, begins a trek across the country in an attempt to warn the house's occupants and to give them the information they must have if they are to save the world. Now on to the third book in the series, "Gatekeepers".