I'll try to split this between the two stories, but they flow together so seamlessly that I didn't realize I'd started the second book until I noticed I was reading another chapter 5.
In the first book, [House of Dark Shadows], we are introduced to the King family, mom, dad, little sister Toria, middle son David, and oldest son Xander (Alexander). They are on the way to Pinedale, where dad has just gotten a new job as principle in a school there. None of the kids are overly thrilled about the move...but kids are rarely happy about leaving everything they know behind. They move into an old run down house on the outskirts of town...and this is where things get interesting.
The house seems to play games with sight and sounds. You'll hear someone talking upstairs only to find out they're in the room right next to you. Not only that...there is a hallway lined with doors. Doors that take you to another place and time.
I loved all the kids....wasn't too fond of the parents. The story moves quickly and keeps you interested. You follow Xander and David primarily, and it's wonderful to see the world through the eyes of children again. Everything seems fresh and new, even if I know it really isn't. The story hooks you very early on and drags you along happily through all the adventures.
Warning: There may be very minor spoilers since this is about the second in the series
In the second book, [Watcher in the Wood], the family is dealing with the disappearance of their mother, the strange appearance of a man intent on getting them out of the house by any means necessary, and a meadow that seems to take all their cares away for awhile. Secrets are revealed and feelings are hurt. I wonder if these will cause permanent damage to relationships later on, so far it's an open door to go either way.
Xander, David, Toria, and their father are all eager to jump in and help find their mother, who has disappeared through one of the portals. However, they all have their own idea of how it should be done sparking arguements, more lies, more secrets, and a few near death experiences. The pace of the story continues in a way that I could hardly tell that one book and ended and the next had started.
Two new characters are also introduced. The creepy man that is bound and determined to get the Kings out of the house, and a mysterious old man that is desperate to find a way to get there. I have the third in my cabinet waiting for me, and I just may need to move it forward in my reading list a little. They leave you with quite a cliff hanger!
4/5 for both.