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Greenglass House Paperback – November 1, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—The Greenglass House is the kind of ancient, creaky home in which a gothic horror story might be set, and the plot in Milford's latest seems to be headed that way, at least at first. Milo has just finished his homework and is looking forward to the quiet time over Christmas break, when the inn for smugglers his adopted parents run is usually deserted. But in the midst of a howling blizzard, an odd assortment of visitors with secretive purposes seemingly related to the history of the building shows up at the inn. When the power goes out and items begin to go missing from the strange new guests' rooms, Milo decides to team up with the cook's daughter, Meddy, to figure out which, if any, of the guests arrived with nefarious purposes. Meddy's interest in Role Playing Games (RPGs) and her insistence that she and Milo adopt new names and personalities for their quest can make certain passages confusing, as Milo often refers to and thinks of himself as his game character, Negret. A twist near the end of the story helps fold the RPG plotline into the overarching narrative, while the icy, atmospheric setting and nuanced character development propel the story forward, in spite of lingering questions about the world the characters live in. Give this one to fans of Trenton Lee Stewart's "The Mysterious Benedict Society" (Little, Brown).—Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla, Darien Library, CT --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
*Starred Review* It’s Christmas break and adopted Milo and his parents are looking forward to a vacation all to themselves at Greenglass House, the inn where they live and routinely host benevolent passing smugglers. When five unusual guests unexpectedly arrive, and their belongings—which all have something to do with the house—start disappearing, Milo finds himself at the heart of a real mystery. With the help of Meddy, the oddball girl who arrives with the cook, and a role-playing game that gives him the courage to poke around where he knows he is not supposed to, Milo uses his knowledge of the house and his skills of observation to find the missing objects, piece together the mystery of the house, and discover a secret about the legendary folk hero who used to live there. The puzzling mystery is perfectly matched by the offbeat world of Nagspeake, a fictional harbor town enhanced by folklore and history rich enough to sound convincingly real, and the dreamy Greenglass House, with its enviable attic, snug corners, and thrilling past. Milford (The Boneshaker, 2010) weaves together compelling clues, crackerjack detective work from Milo and Meddy, and well-rounded characters to reveal heartwarming truths about Greenglass House and its residents. An enchanting, empowering, and cozy read. Grades 5-8. --Sarah Hunter --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a middle grade book revolving around our main character Milo, who is the adopted son of the Pines'. He was looking forward to his Christmas break and some much needed downtime with his family, who happen to own and run an inn - The Greenglass House, that is known to welcome all kinds of visitors, including smugglers. However, just as Milo had finished all his schoolwork early to really enjoy the rest of his break, several guests show up at the doorstep of the inn, each with a stranger reason for the visit than the next. Milo, a lover of mysteries, and mainly just bored, begins an adventure, in which he tries to find out the real reason behind their stay, and how they might be connected to one another.
In doing so, he meets a young girl his age, Meddy, who encourages him to role play and use his imagination. Something that proves to be quite difficult for Milo at first, as he is grounded in reality, but he soon learns to enjoy the role playing as it gives him a chance to pretend to be someone he is not. This is important for Milo's character development, as he struggles with his identity and the many unanswered questions regarding his background and birth parents, and seems to deal with a lot of guilt for wanting to know, given that his parents are great and loving and have never done anything for him to wish otherwise.
At first, I was a little put off by the "game", maybe because it's way above my age group and so I couldn't help but think how childish these kids are being. Meddy, especially, came off as very annoying and clingy and her insistence on sticking to character could become quite irritating - Milo sure did get frustrated with her a few times, however, as they get closer and closer to solving the mystery the game begins to make more sense until it reaches a climax, which honestly left me sitting with my jaw on the floor and gave me goosebumps all over.
I really enjoyed getting to know each of the guests separately, and trying to figure out who was up to what. They all act quite suspicious, and they all have bizarre backgrounds that sometimes don't add up. Suddenly, things start disappearing - guests belongings are being stolen, and everyone is a suspect. Milo makes it his mission to find these missing belongings, but more importantly to find out who is behind all this thievery - and why. When Milo suggests that they all begin sharing stories after dinner, as a way to pass the time and get to know each other a little better, you start seeing glimpses of each one's true intentions and Milo uses that time to try and assess the details for any clues and piece things together, with the help of Meddy.
It all reminded me a little bit of Agatha Christie's, And Then There Were None. Obviously, a more innocent, child-friendly version, just in the way that these strangers are all stuck in a house and telling stories and hiding things and so on. Then again, I probably made that connection because I had recently read it.
A great mystery, with some great characters that are all well developed and rounded. Milo is a great protagonist to have and root for, and his sidekick Meddy is a wonderful companion to him. The twist in the story took me completely off-guard, and I honestly didn't see it coming. I don't know if it's just me, or if Kate Milford played it well, but I was blindsided and found it one of the most unpredictable twists that I had read in a while. Very well done. That twist and ending alone quickly made this book one of my favorites, otherwise, it would have been just another regular old mystery.
This book was pretty good but not the best. My mom thought I would love it because the book was rated so highly. It was supposed to be filled with mystery and intrigue, but it was more like "meh" and intrigue. The plot twist at the end was not really that surprising, I figured it out way too early in the book. The story was about the kids and the house and the mysteries related them, but I was wishing for better plot twists that were not so predictable. I think people who like surprises and a lot of details to figure out along the way may be disappointed by this book. -Tate
On the plus side, this book has great cover art by Jaime Zollars. It is much of the reason I bought the book in the first place. As the book progresses after the midpoint, many of the characters become intriguing. I felt the adoption message was very heavy handed and I was not at all surprised when I read this book sprang out of the author's investigation of international adoption. Much of my family is through adoption and I am sure there are too few supportive books on the subject. Unfortunately this book just hammers on the theme and it was over the top for me.
3 stars from me is a generous review considering the leaden and muddled first half of the book. I can't recommend it to anyone I know as I don't feel it is fair to ask anyone to wade through half a book to get to the better part. The author has some skill with fantasy and dialogue. This book is overlong, badly paced and obscures her abilities.
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