I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Also by this author: The Boneshaker
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 2014
Genres: Adoption, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Friendship, JUVENILE FICTION, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Social Issues, Young Adult
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It’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.
I love that Kate Milford’s books trust that children will be intelligent. I love that they are complex stories with interesting characters and themes. Greenglass House by Kate Milford is a wintery read with quite the mystery to unravel and a rather fascinating cast of characters.
Milo is looking forward to vacation and some time alone with his parents. You see, they run an inn and winter is usually their quiet season. However, Milo’s hopes are dashed when several strangers begin arriving at the inn. The sudden influx of guests – many of which are smugglers by trade – causes Milo’s parents, the Pines to ask Mrs. Caraway, one of the employees to come help. And so, Mrs. Caraway comes with her daughters in tow, including one daughter Milo’s age named Meddy. Meddy and Milo decide to take on these personas in a role playing game called Odd Trails to discover who has been stealing things from other guests as well as to follow a mysterious map that they found that may lead to treasure. Milo takes on the character of Negret, a escaladeur who is much more bold than Milo actually is. Meddy takes on the role of Sirin, a scholiast whom only Negret can see and who assists Negret in solving the mystery.
The thing about Milford’s books is that you get multifaceted characters with these layers that never end up being overwhelming. First off, a large part of Milo’s identity is that he has been adopted by the Pines. He actually is Chinese and the Pines are White. I mention this because the idea of ethnicity as an identifier is explored in this book – Greenglass House is a smart read after all. Milo’s adoption causes him to feel guilt as he fantasizes about his birth parents. Beyond this, Milo is a quiet and unassuming person for the most part. It’s mentioned that he gets really bad anxiety and so, by adopting the persona of Negret, Milo finds he is better able to handle his anxiety. Being Negret makes Milo brave.
I would be absolutely remiss if I did not mention the side characters, but first the Greenglass House itself used to be owned by the most famous smuggler of all, Doc Holystone. The circumstances of his death were quite mysterious. Anyways, Milo’s parents now own the Greenglass house which has these cool stained glass windows on every floor. It also tends to serve as an inn for the local smugglers in Nagspeake and thus, a colorful cast of characters end up at the Greenglass House just before Christmas, interrupting Milo’s vacation. There’s a persnickety old lady. There’s a professor who is very interested in the stained glass, there’s Mr. Vinge who is really interested in the local waterways, there’s Clem O. Candler who is lightning fast on light feet, and then there’s Georgie who seems to already know Clem. These characters all are at the inn for different reasons and are actually all connected in some way to the mystery that surrounds the Greenglass House. I will say that I greatly appreciated the individual roles that each character plays.
Frankly, that’s the best thing about Kate Milford’s Greenglass House, how the mystery goes from being about this old map to being about some missing objects to being about actual legitimate mysteries that surround the house and it’s legend. I loved how the story evolved into something bigger and bigger. Yet, it never gets too big or out of control. It ends up being perfectly resolved in a way that I am very pleased with.
Honestly, if you are into books that have characters that are legitimately different and just plain engaging, you’ll like Greenglass House. If you’re looking for a book with a winter or Christmas setting, you will like Greenglass House. If you’re looking for a book where the house feels like a character, you’ll enjoy Greenglass House. If you want to read something that respects the intelligence of it’s readers regardless of age, you will enjoy Kate Milford’s latest book.