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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Twelve-year-old Lizzie wasn’t too happy about having to move. She had the best life and best friends. But when her parents pulled up in front of the new house, far from her old home, Lizzie was enchanted. Not to mention that there was a mysterious, haunted-looking house next door, which she could see out her bedroom window, and a twelve-year-old foster boy, Johnny, on the other side of the scary house. Lizzie and Johnny became close friends and their first adventure was to sneak into the haunted-looking house. Only, they discovered it wasn’t really haunted. In fact, the house itself is very much alive. The two children befriend the house and learn about the windows to places around the world. As the children start to travel through the window portals and communicate with the house, the house comes alive again and begins to look much less decrepit. And as the children’s adventure begins, they meet witches and warlocks who threaten their lives in search of this one-of-a-kind magical house, the portal house.
Kelsey Ruud’s children’s fantasy novel, The Portal House, is an adventurous read. The story will definitely appeal to young readers, as the two main characters, Lizzie and Johnny, share coming of age challenges like any other twelve-year-old. The characters are very believable and the plot develops at a comfortable pace, reaching an exciting climax before winding down to a resolution that will have young readers sitting on edge awaiting book 2. The themes of friendship, responsibilities, respect, as well as mystery, magic, fantasy and so much more blend nicely into this story as the author weaves a fabulous tale much like Lewis’s Narnia series. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to more adventures with Lizzie and Johnny.