What's the worst fate that can befall you as you get ready to enter middle school? Find out that you will be spending the summer with your uncle and his family in the town of Boring, Illinois. And it lives up the name. Poor Brian is sent to stay with his Uncle Gary, Aunt Jenny, and his cousin Nora while his father is off to Antarctica. It's bad enough that he will be away from home, his brothers, his friends, and the soccer tournament he was training for, but Uncle Gary designs educational software and makes Nora and Brian act as his test subjects. School every day of the summer!
Just when things seem really bleak, Brian and Nora accidentally discover the Matchstick Castle and the van Dash family who live in it. Suddenly they have more adventure than they could ever expect. The house sits on old mining tunnels and caves. The house itself is filled with hidden doorways and strange hallways. There is a ship on the roof (in case of flood), a submarine in the tunnels, and a larger than life family who are all famous explorers, adventurers, writers, etc. When a local city planner has the house condemned and schedules it for demolition, it is time to fight back and defend the castle.
This story is fun in many different ways. There are the wacky characters of the van Dash family who are always digging for lost gold, working on a new novel, trying to domesticate wild boars, and other unusual activities. Brian's despair over being stuck at a computer screen studying all summer is humorous, since we are not the ones trapped in that room listening to the animated Dara and Darrell and their annoying computer-generated voices. And the house itself, the Matchstick Castle, is so full of carrier pigeons, doors that lead nowhere, fire poles, and hammocks that it seems to have been designed by the architects of the The 13-Storey Treehouse.
Great for fans of the Treehouse books (by Andy Griffiths) and similar tales. Highly recommended for middle grade readers who enjoy humorous stories.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.