Author: Kate Milford
Publisher: Clarion Books
Number of Pages: 384
Published: August 24th, 2014
Milo Pine had just finished up the last bit of his homework and was looking forward to spending a quiet winter break at home with his adoptive parents, Nora and Ben Pine in the Greenglass House, a smugglers inn. Suddenly the bell on the porch began to clang signaling a guest was on their way up. The first to arrive was Mr. Vinge, followed by Georgie, Mrs. Hereward, Dr. Gowervine and Clem. Each guest more mysterious than the next, but with one thing in common, they all were harboring secrets about what brought them to Greenglass House on this cold frosty night. While showing the guests to their room, Milo stumbles upon a map, only to have it stolen along with some of the other guest's personal belongings. Milo then meets Meddy, the cook's daughter, who takes an interest in the map he found and agrees to team up with him, suggesting they turn this into a "campaign." Their version of the game will be a role-playing adventure where they create their own characters, abilities, special items and skills all with the goal of finding out who the map belongs to, where it leads and discovering who the thief is in their midst.
As I've said before, I really love old houses and Greenglass is such a wonderful example. There are these lovely stained glass windows, multiple levels, staircases, an interesting past and of course an attic that these two kids get to adventure in. Such fun. Oh and the atmosphere of this story, so wintery and the cozy feel of the Inn with its mugs of cocoa and snow falling from the sky obscuring even your footprints outside. I just love this description,
"By nightfall, the sky had been swept clear of gray for the first time in days, and the moonlight glinted on a world that looked as if it had been created with a layer of silvery glass."
What a perfect setting for a mystery. The role playing game was also really interesting because Milo and Meddy create these unique personalities for themselves, Milo creates a blackjack named Negret who could blend in anywhere, was sneaky and quiet like a rogue or a thief. Skills Milo wished he had in real life because of his feeling like he doesn't fit in with his adoptive family because they don't look the same, and despite loving them wanting to know more about his birth parents and heritage. Milo's adoptive parents were always supportive and encouraging to him in the story, with his dad even relating how he played a similar game called "Odd Trails" when he was growing up and I enjoyed their interactions together. They care and are around for him, but also give him space to explore and be a kid. As a side note, the author explains that the initial spark for her story was her own plans of adopting a Chinese child and one day wanting him to feel comfortable to talk to her about what he is thinking and letting him know that they too want to make sure he knows about his birth parents. Meddy chooses to be a scholiast named Sirin, someone who observes and helps the blackjack in their tasks. Their game was quite creative, reminiscent of Dungeons and Dragons or perhaps a real life game of Clue while creating a whole detailed, imaginative back story for themselves and these fun named items like the "Cloak of Indiscernibility or Helm of Revelations." The closest thing I can think of to describe this book is The Westing Game. I'm excited for the sequel Ghosts of Greenglass House coming on October 3rd, 2017.