“The Key House” by Mike Curtis

8 minutes, 31 seconds Read
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About this book:

“After moving into a newly inherited house, the Noland kids discover clues to a supposed treasure hidden by their great-great-grandfather. But when town rumors and some spiteful neighbors suggest foul play was involved, Caleb and David set out on a quest to prove otherwise.
With unexpected dangers looming large and threatening their mission, can the Noland kids discover the mysterious treasure or whatever lies at the end of their treacherous venture, before time runs out and all is lost?”

Series: Book #1 in “The Noland Kids Adventure” series.

Spiritual Content- Scriptures are quoted, referenced, & mentioned; A Prayer; Witnessing to someone who is cynical about Jesus and thinks Christians are hypocrites; Recalling events in the Bible & discussion it (Jesus calming the sea & being on the Cross); Talks about God, Jesus, believing in Him, & forgiveness; ‘H’s are capital when referring to God; Caleb spends some time Bible reading and reflecting on his pride and struggles with maybe God wanting him to change things; Caleb & David’s dad is a Christian professor at a local seminary; When the adventuring gets dangerous, it’s wondered if God decided that it was their time [to go/die] and that accepting it was difficult (but it turns out okay); Mentions of God; Mentions of those & events in the Bible; Mentions of prayers, praying, & blessing over food; Mentions of churches, church going, Sunday school lessons, & the boys’ dad guest preaching one Sunday; Mentions of the Noland family reading a Bible story book & devotion together before bed; A couple mentions of a man saying that he regrets not following Christ earlier in his life & a letter saying his hopes for his relatives know Him; A couple mentions of sins; A mention of Heaven; A mention of a relative being a man of God; A mention of the Pope;
*Note: The boys say that finding this treasure and putting the rumors to rest is their “destiny”; Mentions of rumors of the hidden treasure being cursed and/or haunted & that ghosts are protecting it (which the boys’ dad shuts down by saying that “the Bible says that when a person dies, they immediately go to their final destination. And that’s not earth. It’s either heaven or hell, depending on whether they believed wholeheartedly in Jesus to live for Him or not” and also says that those who believe in Him will never be punished for their sins; Later, they wonder if ghosts are protecting the treasure, but their dad says there are no ghosts, though, they do get creeped out on the thought of ghosts protecting the treasure; Anything that could be thought as a ghosts’ doing, it later explained and figured out what really happened); A few mentions of evil & someone being called evil; A few mentions of aliens (teasingly); A mention of the boys’ sister Lizzy giving them a glare that could “put even a demon to flight”; A mention of a “demonized” dog; A mention of all the rumors in town is not “gospel truth”.

Negative Content- Minor cussing including: a ‘stinking’ and eight ‘stupid’s; Mentions of curses (said, not written by an adult); A bit of sarcasm; Almost drowning, Being thrown into rapids & Looking for others (someone doesn’t come back up to the surface and there’s a bit of grieving by a side character, up to semi-detailed); Fighting off a snake and large spider (up to semi-detailed); Being chased by a dog after trespassing (the owner encourages it and the boy wonders if he’s going to die, Caleb throws a rock at the dog and even though it was for safety, he feels guilty about doing that, the boys do not tell their parents that this happened, barely-above-not-detailed); A couple men try to intimidate the boys by driving straight at them (they are not hit by the car, but very shaken), later threatening them both verbally and with a gun; Caleb & David try to solve the mystery by themselves (they dad is only able to help them on weekends due to work, so while they aren’t lying, they don’t share what they’re up to with their parents and this leads to some dangerous situations and very close calls, up to semi-detailed); The boys taunt and tease each other (along with a couple threats from Caleb to David about listening to what he says); Caleb & David start to argue a couple times point, but their parents nip it in the bud; David has been picked on for his short stature and it greatly upsets him when Caleb taunts him about it (David goes to call him a “bad, disrespectful word” (according to their little sister), but nothing is said and their dad has a one-to-one talk with Caleb about putting others down and not being prideful); Later, Caleb humiliates his brother in front of his teammates and Caleb prideful of his baseball skills, which causes the coach to talk to him and bench him for his words and actions; Many mentions of gossip & rumors (including a rumor of those who looked for a treasure ended up dying and another about the treasure being cursed and/or haunted, and of others being murderers, barely-above-not-detailed); Mentions of kids saying that a man is a murderer who “got lucky and got away with it”, that his dogs will attack anyone who steps on his property (including that his Rottweiler-pit bull mixed dogs took a boy’s leg off, which is not confirmed by an adult, barely-above-not-detailed), & him threatening the boys with harm if they hurt his dog or trespass again; Mentions of a car accident that caused the death of a parent, but many believe it wasn’t an accident; Mentions of an accident that caused a handful of deaths (and that some people still hold a grudge against the family that caused the accident, barely-above-not-detailed); Mentions of people and pets disappearing into large holes/bottomless pits (up to semi-detailed); Mentions of harsh rapids, the possibility of drowning, thinking someone drowned, & vomiting; Mentions of injuries, blood/bleeding, & pain; Mentions of stealing & stolen items; Mentions of a guy trying to intimidate the boys by acting like he’s going to run over them with his car (they are shaken and their dad tries to find the man); Mentions of explosions; Mentions of hatred; Mentions of grief (of a mother, and a family); A few mentions of a shipwreck & deaths; A few mentions of an orphanage being raided by a pirate; A few mentions of lies & lying; A few mentions of smoking; A couple mentions of wars; A couple mentions of seeing a young man being aggressively put-down by another; A couple mentions of jealousy; A mention of a mission being called “suicide” by David (regarding a dare); A mention of about 70% of orphaned boys becoming criminals; A mention of David slugging a someone who called him a name (not a bad name, he misunderstood); A mention of David making “bodily noises”;
*Note: Mentions of a mother’s death from cancer & her son struggling since her passing; Mentions of brand names & items; Mentions of car brands; A few mention of characters & quotes from movies (The Princess Bride, A Christmas Carol); A couple mentions of ESPN; A mention of a MLB baseball team; A mention of a celebrity (Tony Hawk).

Sexual Content- When in the boys’ dad’s point of view, it mentions him and their mom snuggling in bed talking; A couple mentions of parents kissing (the Noland kids groan at it happening and when David asks if they have to do that when they’re married, the dad responds that he “may not mind it so much later”); A mention of about 60% of orphaned girls becoming prostitutes (a boy blushes when this is said);
*Note: A couple mentions of a man’s muscles flexing through his tank top (mentioned because of his strength).

-Caleb Noland, age 12
-David Noland, age 10
P.O.V. switches between them & a couple others
Set in 1995
236 pages


Pre Teens-

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New Teens-


Early High School Teens-

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Older High School Teens-


My personal Rating-

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I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, the synopsis had me intrigued and the cover gave off a creepy element. It turns out it was a little more intense than I was expecting—particularly the last half of the story!

I think I would say that I preferred the first half of the story because it really highlighted what I love to see in middle-grade books—a close family and that wholesomeness from the parents that care for their children and the children respecting their parents. If you’d not familiar with the middle-grade genre (Christian or secular), there’s not too many that have that element or have it done well, in my opinion.

The second half of the story had a Indian Jones vibe due to the treasure and hunting for it, which some readers may love. Personally it was a bit much for me, but there’s also lessons learned within those parts. Though the brothers talk to their parents often and the parents are very involved in their lives and interests (they also homeschool), the boys do keep some of their adventuring a secret under the guise of not wanting to their hopes up. Some of this adventuring leads into some close-calls and dangerous situations, and once the parents are told, they’re proud of the boys for looking out for each other but will be discussing the fact they went without an adult later.

The faith content was solid, and I really liked seeing Caleb having a discussion with someone who doesn’t believe. There was good character development that felt very realistic for a boy Caleb’s age.
Overall? Not bad. While I wish a couple things had been different or happened differently, it was a pretty suspenseful read for a middle-grade book and one I can see quite a few middle-grade fans enjoy.

See y’all on Friday with a new review!

both; text-align: center;”>Siggy

*BFCG may (Read the review to see) recommend this book by this author. It does not mean I recommend all the books by this author.

*I received this book for free from the Author for this honest review.

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