Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Review: Greenglass House

Greenglass House
By Kate Milford
Clarion Books, 2014
Reviewed from Netgalley
Audience: Grades 4 to 8
ISBN:  9780544052703
Publication Date:  August 26, 2014

Milo lives in the Greenglass Inn, an inn for smugglers, and since smuggling tends to be a more fair weather trade, it's usually empty in the winter, but not today.  Five mysterious guests show up just days before Christmas and can't say exactly when they'll leave or why they are there.  Making up the five guests are a professor, a wealthy woman, two spry young women, and a dark stranger.  Milo's parents call in extra help in the form of a cook and baker, and a young girl comes with them.  Milo and the girl Meddy strike up a friendship and begin a role playing game to find out why everyone is here.  In the game they are Negret and Sirin, two characters that are much more than themselves, but still very much the same people.  As items start going missing, and even more guests show up, the mystery grows, until finally, Milo asks everyone to tell a story for entertainment and legends of the smuggler Doc Holystone start to collide with myths of the roamers and many other odd tales until, at last, everyone's motivations are revealed and Milo, or Negret, must find a way to save them all.

I'd seen advertisements for this book here and there, but it wasn't until I read a review on A Fuse #8 Production that I really took notice.  Elizabeth Bird likened it to The Westing Game.  I personally love The Westing Game, and I've heard of several mystery books before that it's like The Westing Game, but all fall short, until now.  Greenglass House is a mystery in the vein of TWG, and so much more.

Milo is a great character.  He's shy and anxious and really needs to be the brave and daring Negret.  He learns so much about himself as Negret, and lets himself explore his familial heritage while he's playing Negret without guilt.  See, Milo is adopted, he's Chinese and his parents are Caucasian, so it's obvious that he's adopted, and while he loves his parents, he can't help but wonder about his birth family.  As Negret, he builds a rich backstory without feeling like he's betraying his parents.  And he gains confidence by playing this role.  

Aside from the main plot of so many guests, so little information, there are rich myths woven within the story.  I am a big sucker for the story within a story and Milford does this masterfully.  It's much like Where the Mountain Meets the Moon in that all of the stories seem random at first, but the reader starts seeing connections and I was getting really excited to see just where they would all connect.  

SPOILER ALERT BELOW!!  Please if you plan on reading this book, skip the next paragraph.

The one thing that bothered me was the ghost.  I caught on pretty quick about the ghost and it made me so angry.  It felt like a really trite plot device.  I don't consider myself the most savvy reader, after all, I was floored by the ending to We Were Liars and after finishing that book, I felt silly for not seeing the ending sooner.  No, I felt like this ghost was too simply drawn and it bothered me.  I wasn't supposed to catch on this quickly!  I was mad for maybe 100 pages, then the story became too good and I let it slide, and in the end, I understood and appreciated why it was done that way, although I still say that it good have been a little more vague.


I received this book from NetGalley, but not as a Kindle download that will stay with me until my Amazon account dies.  Nope, I had to download this on my computer, and those downloads only last 55 days-random I know.  Smart move publisher.  I feel so in love with this book and everything about it that I must own it.  That's how good it is.  I've read it, but I want to read it again, and again, and listen to the audiobook just for fun.  Just like The Westing Game.

For a great mystery with twists, turns, legends, and heart, Greenglass House is complete perfection.

Happy Reading!

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