Title: Greenglass House (Greenglass House, #1)
Author: Kate Milford
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Synopsis (from Amazon):
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.
Why I Think Boys May Enjoy This
Milo is every kid who ever had his vacation (be it Winter Break, Summer, or any other break) spoiled by unforeseen events. This immediately sucks in pretty much any kid who has felt themselves in that situation. The story ostensibly starts as an Agatha Christie-like mystery as the various strangers arrive at the Greenglass House in rapid succession, filling Milo’s home (which was also his family’s business) with an extremely diverse and interesting cast of characters.
The story begins its uniqueness and modern take on this old mystery trope (and this is what I think will really draw in younger readers) when Milo begins his “game” with Meddy. As Meddy introduces Milo to “Odd Trails,” a D&D-inspired tabletop RPG game, the story gets a second layer added to it that actually reads like a LitRPG, which is so awesome! Milo and Meddy go back and forth between their “regular” selves and “in-game” characters for the remainder of the story and find that they are capable of living this dual-lives situation. Milford writes so seamlessly back and forth between the two (using their in character names and out of character names interchangeably) that the reader gets engrossed in both levels simultaneously.
On top of all this, there are the numerous layers of mysteries involving the history of the house, the various strangers who show up, their connections (or seeming connections) to one another, Meddy’s own family history, and more. It’s hard to write about how excited I was to peel back every layer of this mystery without spoilers so I’ll have to stop there.
On a final note, I have to say that if I ever go back to teaching English, I would *definitely* use this book in place of one of the older and more dated mysteries (even by a master like Agatha Christie) in favor of this modern and brilliantly crafted story. It is so good, I could easily teach a unit around it!
The beauty of telling this book through Milo’s eyes is that we are filtered from any of the adult-level issues that probably arose along the way. We, the readers, are sheltered from any potential violence or sexual content issues that could have arisen otherwise, and none of the patrons of the Greenglass House on this particular winter stretch are foul-mouthed sailors (well, some of them may have been, but they kept it in check around Milo!). There is some mystery and suspense and threats of violence, but there are no major blood-curdling violent moments or anything else to keep young readers from finishing this book.