The Secrets of Winterhouse by Ben Guterson
Format: E ARC
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Number of Pages: 384
Publishing: December 2018
Source: Edelweiss Plus
Opening Line: "Elizabeth Somers hopped from the bus's stairs into ankle-high snow and was halfway to the door of the tiny, brick station when a shock of certainty made her stop: Someone is looking for me."
The Secrets of Winterhouse begins with Elizabeth returning to Winterhouse hotel for winter break where she is reunited with her best friend Freddy. Together the two uncover a new puzzle that involves secret passageways, hidden doors, and an enormous seal with a riddle to solve. Elizabeth and Freddy are joined by newcomer, Elana, who is visiting the hotel with her overly bearing grandmother and a boy named Rodney that Elizabeth had a run-in with on the bus to Winterhouse. Also, hidden somewhere in one of the many passageways of the hotel is a magical item that has sent the guests of the hotel on a hunt. Will Elizabeth and Freddy be able to figure out the clues to their new mystery and save the Winterhouse hotel once again?
I really enjoy reading Guterson's books, they're always filled with puzzles, and riddles to solve. The setting of Winterhouse hotel over the winter holiday is especially nice now that the weather here has gotten colder. The hidden passageways and addition of Elana and her grandmother, Mrs. Vesper also add just the right element of mystery making for a delightful read. Elana is quite a mysterious girl, and at first, the duo isn't sure of her intentions. Is she looking for companionship or trying to get information from Elizabeth and Freddy about the hotel? Mrs. Vesper turned out to be way creepier than I was expecting, especially with the mesmerizing way that she talks. Also what is up with Northbridge? He's been kinda unavailable lately and there are some questions from his past that Elizabeth would like the answers to. Plus now that Elizabeth's "powers" have been developing further, and she's having these episodes where she lets her anger get the best of her, she could really use his input on whether there is some connection to Gracella that Elizabeth should be worried about.
Like in his previous book, each chapter of The Secrets of Winterhouse begins with an interesting title and in this case, an anagram to decode. I had a lot of fun rearranging the letters to make new words and must say some of the anagrams were pretty challenging. Chloe Bristol's black and white illustrations are always a delight as well. Freddy and Elizabeth's are such wonderful friends and I enjoy how they're both so smart, talented and inquisitive which really comes handy when trying to solve those riddles. The ending of the story isn't fully resolved, but that's ok because now I have Winterhouse and the Midnight Puzzle to look forward to. Can't wait to see what kind of mystery and puzzles Guterson will come up with next.