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The House in Poplar Wood Kindle Edition
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From the Publisher
Praise for The House in Poplar Wood
"The foreboding atmosphere perfectly matches the dark mystery and high stakes confronting the middle-schoolers."
"Magical elements, evocative, intelligent writing, and ever-ratcheting suspense."
- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A smart, thrilling mystery, equal parts dark and gentle, that explores questions about freedom, power, and choosing one's master."
- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A breathtaking and elegant tale with vivid prose."
- Ashley Herring Blake, acclaimed author of Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World
Author K.E. Ormsbee on the importance of spooky books for children
Why do spooky books matter? I believe they matter because they speak to children where they are. They appeal to those spooky thrills we crave around the campfire, while also addressing life as it is-filled with both loss and love, joy and pain, life and death. This is the kind of story I set out to tell in The House in Poplar Wood. It’s an autumnal tale of mystery, friendship, and gumption, set in rural Tennessee and inspired in part by the works of the Brothers Grimm. It’s my hope that this story makes its way into the hands of readers who, like me, are searching for understanding and camaraderie in the darkest of nights, our reading flashlights in hand.
"With twins who are forced to leave separate lives, one with each parent, this is kind of like a scary version of 'The Parent Trap.'" —Romper
"The foreboding atmosphere perfectly matches the dark mystery and high stakes confronting the middle-schoolers." -Booklist
"Spooky but not too scary. the story also tells how one person, or three working together, can make a difference." -School Library Connection
"Quirky, spooky, and thoroughly enjoyable." -School Library Journal, starred review
"Ormsbee manages quite the balancing act, giving each kid a distinct personality and an authentic perspective." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Magical elements, evocative, intelligent writing, and ever-ratcheting suspense."-Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Atmospheric and gripping, the book offers a boldly original take on the Grim Reaper concept, but never sacrifices entertainment for metaphysics (even while raising some thought-provoking questions). Ormsbee does a masterly job of juggling perspectives, keeping all the children distinct and fascinating in their own ways, while never losing the page-whipping pace of her well-crafted plot." —The New York Times
"A smart, thrilling mystery, equal parts dark and gentle, that explores questions about freedom, power, and choosing one's master." -Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A fresh, imaginative, creepy, and cheer-worthy tale of three teens trying to break family curses, escape dark forces, and do the right thing for themselves and their loved ones." —Common Sense Media5-star review --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
About the Author
- File Size : 1721 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Chronicle Books LLC (August 28, 2018)
- Publication Date : August 28, 2018
- Print Length : 344 pages
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B07D1F8NZL
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #212,904 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In this world, Death, Memory and Passion are “living” beings, called Shades, and each town has their own trio, unbeknownst to most folk. The Vickery adults serve Death and Memory as apprentices and their sons are being trained to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Felix and his father service Death – Felix’s father is the local doctor, creating various tinctures, ointments and cure-alls to help those whose time hasn’t come yet, and watching over those lives Death extinguishes. Lee and his mother serve Memory – I’m not actually 100% sure how Lee’s mother is seen to the community. Magic isn’t widely known or believed, yet his mother is able to remove memories (both bad and good) from people’s minds and hold on to them. I suppose she could be viewed as a sort of therapist, but I’m not sure if people know they no longer have certain memories after visiting her. We don’t learn too much about Passion, as she’s not really the focus of the story.
In addition to having to assist their parents and essentially train to be apprentices, the boys live in separate halves of the house, east and west. Lee and his father literally can’t see or hear each other, even if they happen to be in the same room. Same goes for Felix and his mother. Their parents can’t see or hear each other and haven’t since the twins were born. On top of that, Felix is blind in one eye and wears an eyepatch – but if he lifts it up, he can see Death or Memory (and Passion). In turn, Lee is deaf in one ear, but can hear Death or Memory in that ear, should they choose to speak to him. Memory tends to hum a lot. This is all part of the Agreement. The expectation is that when the boys turn 16, they will sign contracts to Death and Memory and serve as full-fledged apprentices. Both boys are trying to find a way to avoid the contracts and break the Agreement so their family can be whole.
Lee is boisterous and outgoing and was raised in a somewhat normal environment. He can attend public school and his job is mostly just canning and labeling the memories his mother and Memory extract from their visitors. Felix, on the other hand, tends to be more serious, as he’s been forced to witness townsfolk die from a very young age and he’s not allowed to attend school or even leave the wood surrounding the house, except on Halloween. Then you have Gretchen; she comes from a long line of Summoners, those whose job it is to keep the Shades in line in service of the townsfolk. But only the first-born learns the Rites required to become a Summoner.
Gretchen feels ignored by her father, who happens to be the mayor, and harassed by her older brother, who is a bit of a rebel. Gretchen is rebellious herself, angry at her family, angry because she isn’t allowed to learn Rites and angry because she believes something suspicious is going on after the death of a classmate, but no one will listen to her. Gretchen is one of those annoying characters that grow on you – her attitude and anger are justified, but that doesn’t make her an easy character to read about. But she definitely shows the most growth throughout the story.
I enjoyed the characters and the plot was unique. I did wonder why Death, Memory and Passion were picked as the only three Shades to exist, but I can imagine the book would be pretty lengthy if more Shades were involved. You could definitely make an argument for those three things having a large part in everyone’s lives. I liked how each town has its own crew of Shades – they can have different personalities and ways of doing their job. It’s remarked that the Death in Chattanooga has his apprentice hand out chocolates to sweeten the journey to the afterlife.
This was a solid read with compelling characters, Felix being the most engaging given the solemnity of his “job.” The end wrapped up a little quickly, but I’m not too bothered by it. If there was a sequel (I could see it going either way), I would certainly pick it up. It wasn’t as moving as I’d like, though there are some decently emotional scenes.
I recommend this if you like:
- Dark middle-grade
- Family drama
- Magical beings hidden in plain sight
- Beautifully designed books
(Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)