Authors: Chris Columbus & Ned Vezzini
The Walker family have just moved into a magnificent yet mysterious new home: Kristoff House. Dahlia Kristoff, the original owner's daughter, lives nearby and isn't too thrilled about the new neighbors. She takes the form of The Wind Witch, trashes the house and, in the process, throws the three Walker children into another world, one filled with giants, medieval warriors and World War I fighter pilots. In order to get back, they have to survive the perils of this realm and outwit The Wind Witch.
One can easily see a filmmaker's hand in the story. We always get a detailed physical descriptions upfront. In fact, everything about the book is upfront - no slow, subtle narrative build here. The storytellers actually come across as a bit impatient. They just can't wait to get to the good parts and there's no time anyway with all of the good parts they've crammed into the box. I enjoyed the premise and certainly got caught up in the tale by the end but I could have done with a bit more finesse.
Another knock which is more along the lines of personal pet peeve: the writers tried a little too hard to tie the story to the here and now. I'm okay with the inclusion of electronic devices but don't much like being clobbered with brand names like PSP and MacBook Air. Was Columbus already thinking ahead to the movie and raking in some extra cash with product placement?
In my post-reading research, I was sad to learn that Vizzini committed suicide not long after the book was published. Two sequels have been published posthumously. A film for the first book is currently in development.