Greenglass House

by Kate Milford

Other authorsJaime Zollars (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2014



Local notes

PB Mil





HMH Books for Young Readers (2014), Edition: Reprint, 376 pages


Fantasy. Juvenile Fiction. Juvenile Literature. Mystery. 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. Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.… (more)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

376 p.; 5.13 inches

Media reviews

An abundantly diverting mystery seasoned with mild fantasy and just a little steampunk.
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The legends and folktales Milford (The Broken Lands) creates add to Nagspeake’s charm and gently prepare the ground for a fantasy twist.

User reviews

LibraryThing member foggidawn
When a bunch of strange and unexpected visitors show up at his parents' inn the week before Christmas, Milo is less than enthusiastic -- he had been looking forward to a quiet vacation with just his family. But it's soon obvious that the inn's guests are hiding secrets, ones about the inn and its
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former owners. With the help of a new friend, an old book, and a role-playing game, Milo is on the track to discover what all of these people are doing at Greenglass House.

This is a cozy juvenile mystery with a lot of appeal. It's well-written, with a setting that the author has obviously thoroughly imagined (well past the confines of the book), great, quirky characters that develop and bloom over the course of the story, and a gripping, well-paced plot. It's one of the best juvenile novels I've read this year.
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LibraryThing member VioletBramble
Milo Pine lives in Greenglass House with his adoptive parents. Greenglass House was originally built by a famous smuggler. The Pines run an Inn in the house that caters, mostly, to smugglers. It's the start of Christmas vacation and Milo is looking forward to relaxing, sledding with his parents,
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drinking hot chocolate and all his other favorite Christmas and winter related activities. Then, unexpectedly, five guests show up with plans to stay over the holiday. Each of these guests has a connection to Greenglass House. When things start disappearing from the guests rooms Milo, and his new friend Meddy, begin playing an RPG with the goal of finding the missing objects and the identity of the thief. The mystery becomes bigger as the story progresses. So does the danger. There is also a paranormal plot twist near the end.
This middle grade read was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it start to finish.
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LibraryThing member Tatoosh
Twelve-year-old Milo and Meddy, a young girl apparently of the same age, are snowbound over the Christmas holiday in his parents’ inn. Five unexpected guests arrive, one after the other, out of the winter storm. The surprise influx of guests necessitates the return of the inn’s chef and her
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daughter (a baker and, Milo assumes, Meddy’s mother).

Initially, Milo is upset because he was counting on a relaxing Christmas vacation alone with his parents, and he does not handle change well. While retrieving a book he accidentally left behind when helping the guests with their luggage Milo discovers a leather wallet that contains a mysterious navigational chart. The chart does not depict the local bays and rivers. Reluctantly, Milo agrees to Meddy’s suggestion that they “go in search of whatever this chart leads to.” Meddy insists that they adopt alternate personas for their quest so Milo becomes an escaladeur named Negret and Meddy adopts the persona of a scholiast, Sirin.

Milford sets up an interesting premise—unexpected guests arriving out of the winter storm, a mysterious navigation chart, and the children’s intent to identify the location depicted in the chart. This is the first book I have read by Milford, however, and the names she invented for the location (e.g., Skidwrack, Magothy) were unfamiliar. I was unable to place the setting in a real or imagined universe and their use caused a “head-scratching pause”.

I also found the decision to overlay the mystery with the gaming context interfered with my enjoyment of the story. The actions, discoveries, and conclusions of Milo and Meddy would have been every bit as feasible if Milford had adopted a more straightforward approach. In short, Milford provided no convincing reason that Milo needs to pretend to be Negret to investigate the mysterious actions occurring in the inn.

As the plot builds towards a climax Milo and the others are in a precarious situation with no feasible means of escape. Milford then springs a stunning surprise that permits their ultimate triumph. Although she undoubtedly had this ending in mind, it struck me as an author “cheat” that diminished my affection for the book and some of the central characters.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
It is the start of the Christmas holidays, and Milo is looking forward to spending some time alone with his parents. Although the Pine family run Greenglass House, a hotel on the Skidwrack River, in the old smuggling district of Nagspeake, they usually don't have guests at this time of year. When
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the unexpected happens, and people - lots of people! - begin arriving, it looks like the holiday has been ruined. But a series of mysteries, in which it is revealed that each of the guests has some connection to Greenglass House, and a role-playing game that Milo becomes involved in with his new companion Meddy, end up making it one of the most memorable Christmases ever. A surprising turn of events at the conclusion of the story, in which one guest's most unexpected identity is revealed, helps to resolve the final crisis...

I enjoyed Greenglass House immensely! It is an involving mystery, or rather, series of mysteries, whose resolutions are not immediately apparent, making the tale all the more entertaining. It is also an engaging tale of a young boy who is struggling to understand himself and his place in the world. Adopted from China as an infant, Milo is conscious of the fact that he does not look like his parents, Ben and Nora Pine, and fantasizes about his birth family. This aspect of the story is worked seamlessly into the larger narrative, which centers on the eponymous Greenglass House itself. Milford excels at creating a very strong sense of place here - something I particularly value, in stories - and she weaves an atmospheric tale in which each character's connection to the house and its fabled history of smuggling adds to the sense of excitement and discovery. The surprise ending, in which one character's true nature is revealed, took me completely by surprise, and had me reevaluating the entire store. Wholeheartedly recommended to anyone looking for engaging children's mysteries, or children's stories featuring old and mysterious houses and quirky characters. I know I'm already looking forward to the forthcoming sequel!
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LibraryThing member acargile
Greenglass House is an old-fashioned mystery.

Milo lives in Greenglass house and he's looking forward to the Christmas holidays. He's finishing his homework when the bell dings. You see, Greenglass House is a hotel of sorts. Most of their customers are criminals, but the people come in seasons. In
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addition, there is a terrible snow storm. In order to get to Greenglass House, you have to get on a railcar that takes you up a steep cliff from the shore to the house. Milo isn't expecting any guests; he's only expecting Christmas. After the guest arrives, the bell rings again…..and again……and again. They end up with several mysterious guests who all seem to have a secret. Finally, the snow and ice traps all in this house.

The lady who helps them cook arrives at the last minute to help with the guests, bringing her daughters. Meddy convinces Milo to play a game where they take on different personas to use clues to solve what is going on with the guests. The novel takes Milo around his house as he hunts for clues and gives him practice with investigation as he asks the guests questions to find out what's really going on.

I've seen lots of these old mysteries where people are trapped in a location, pretending not to know each other, and the mystery has to be solved as to what is actually going on. They're fun and clever. You'll feel sorry for Milo and his parents as problem after problem occurs and they have to keep their guests happy without losing their tempers or patience. I like the novel.
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LibraryThing member robertwmartin
This was an enjoyable read, full of well-developed, believable characters, with twists and turns aplenty. I read it to my oldest daughter over the course of a few weeks around Christmas, which is when the book is set. I had an out loud "OH!" moment one night when I figured out part of the story
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well in advance, and it drove my daughter crazy when I wouldn't tell her what it was.

I particularly enjoyed how the main characters moved between personas. The transitions were smooth and transparent but believable.

This book was nominated in a Young Reader's Choice Awards contest in our local public library system but it certainly something that adults will enjoy as well. (4.5 / 5.0)
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LibraryThing member Inky_Fingers
Did not grab me, or hold onto me, even after I was more than half way through the book. There were interesting touches in the setting of the inn and a bunch of unexpected guests snowed in all at once, but the author did not take advantage of this to introduce an eerie or creepy vibe. I think
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perhaps one problem was that there was not much at stake for the protagonists, so that whatever happened in the end, it didn't really matter. The introduction of the role-playing game seemed forced and unnecessary. I thought she did a better job with "The Boneshaker".
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LibraryThing member lilibrarian
Milo lives with his adoptive parents in a rambling old inn at the top of a mountain. His hopes for a quiet holiday with his parents are trashed when a variety of odd characters, most of whom are acting very strangely, appear at the inn. Snowy and icy weather keep them all indoors as things go
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missing and they slowly learn the reasons they all came.
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LibraryThing member TeachrBkMom
Very clever mystery with lots of quirky characters and plot twists. It reminded me a bit of The Westing Game.
LibraryThing member ewyatt
A classic mystery trope, a bunch of strangers arrive at an inn unexpectedly and are stuck there due to weather. Some of them know each other but pretend not to, and all of them are there for reasons connected to Greenglass House, which is known as a Smugglers Inn. Milo and his parents, the
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innkeepers, are not expecting to spend their Christmas holidays this way. Milo with the help of Meddy, decide to play a game to investigate the house and strange goings on. Lots of characters and pieces to track. Milo is a likeable, resourceful guy and the characters are quirkly. His parents are a little over-the-top supportive. Once I got into the story I enjoyed the read.
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LibraryThing member delphica
I really got a kick out of this. It wasn't perfect -- some things seemed more complicated than they needed to be, and then didn't even seem to go anywhere anyway -- but overall, absolutely decent middle reader mystery novel.

Milo lives in an old inn with his parents, and over Christmas, a group of
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visitors arrive, all of whom have some interest in the house as it figures in a series of mysteries that are slightly, but not always, related. This is the part that I was maybe being picky about -- the mysteries don't quite come together as a single story, and maybe that's an intentional choice, but it came across to me more as "oh hey, it would be complicated to dovetail all these mysteries together exactly, so I'm going to just leave that alone." Sort of like a 92% issue for me. Why not go to 100%?

The setting I would almost describe as magical realism (but not enough to make me dislike it), this was maybe the most impressive thing to me, or the thing that stood out as the most different -- it takes place in a smugglers' port that managed to feel both timeless and modern, and it's maybe American (New England?) or the Canadian coast or somewhere in the UK.

I would like to note that the cover is a terrific example of a book that makes you want to read it because there is an awesome house on the cover. Like The Finches' Fabulous Furnace or Green Knowe or Family Grandstand.
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LibraryThing member kmjanek
Greenglass House is also known as the smugglers’ inn because they have always housed smugglers coming in from the coast. The Greenglass House is a bed and breakfast in the mountains of the east coast. The story begins close to Christmas, and Milo is looking forward to a nice quiet house without
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any guests to look after. It is snowing and the family is looking forward to some family time. Unexpectedly, someone rings the bell to take the railway up to the house. As the weather gets worse, more guests show up all looking for answers to an old mystery. Milo makes fast friends with Meddy because she is the only one who is his age. She proposes they play and adventure game, which leads Milo to take risks he would not otherwise have taken. As the strange guests arrive, strange things happen around the inn. Things go missing and they are all stranded because the weather is so bad that they cannot get down the mountain. They all have to wait it out together and try to get along.

I love how the cover art reflects the “Greenglass” of the title. The story is engaging, mysterious and strange. The game that Milo and Maddy play is quite strange and Milo’s parents notice a bit, but he’s not really doing anything wrong. Milo has a lot of responsibility for a kid because he has to help his parents run the inn. Milo is adopted and sometimes feels like an outsider and the author did a great job portraying his feelings. The story is set in a harbor town named Nagspeake, with enough history and folklore to seem real. There is even a Nagspeake website for readers who enjoyed the book. This quote from a Kirkus review is really perfect, “An abundantly diverting mystery seasoned with mild fantasy and just a little steampunk.” A shocking twist will have readers re-reading the beginning of the story. This book deservedly won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best juvenile mystery novel.

This book does not have any controversial themes. It is appropriate for middle school to high school readers. It would be a good choice for students looking for mystery books. There are a few illustrations that really add to the story. It is just an all around fun read and a good selection for school libraries.
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LibraryThing member paula-childrenslib
At Greenglass House, a smuggler's inn, twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers' adopted son, plans to spend his winter holidays relaxing but soon guests are arriving with strange stories about the house sending Milo and Meddy, the cook's daughter, on an adventure.
LibraryThing member ladycato
This is another book up for the Andre Norton Award as part of the Nebula Awards. This is very much my favorite contender. If I had read this book at age ten or eleven, I would have been obsessed. This is a cozy read for children or adults. It's a mystery set in a fascinating old house, and it's
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about the deep love of family, and friendship, and that thieves and less-than-legal folks aren't necessarily bad guys. It's a deep celebration of imagination and role-playing.

Milo is a wonderful hero. He's a boy who just wants a peaceful Christmas break with his inn-keeping parents, and instead they are inundated with peculiar guests. His friendship with Meddy feel genuine. What I loved most was his tight relationship with his adopted parents, and his very realistic questions about his own past and biological family and how that plays into his role-playing. There were some family scenes that actually brought tears to my eyes.

If you have a middle-grader in need of a good book, this one is really accessible to boys or girls. The fantasy element is light and there's nothing kissy-kissy, and while it gets tense at times it's not a scary book at all.
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LibraryThing member pussreboots
Greenglass House by Kate Milford is a multilayered tale of smuggling, role playing, story telling, and family. Milo lives with his adoptive parents in an inn at the edge of ocean. It's accessible by trolley or via a treacherous road. When the snow begins to fall, the inn typically closes. The
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family celebrates a quiet Christmas together. But this year, one by one, guests start to arrive, unannounced.

Included in the guests, is a girl named Meddy. She uses a Dungeons and Dragons style role playing game to turn the adults' stories of the Greenglass house in its days as a smuggler's den, into an adventure. Through larping Milo and Meddy take on the task of decoding a treasure map and solving the mystery of the Greenglass House.

Greenglass House, like The Boneshaker is a poetic and layered book. Story telling features prominently and each character has his or her story to tell, except for Milo, who has a foundling, is desperate to know his origins. He knows he's Chinese but he doesn't know anything of his parents or how he came to this smuggler's hideout. So instead, he invents a new story for himself which he plays out through his larping as a master thief named Negret.

Although I started reading Greenglass House as a library book, I ended up purchasing a copy for my home library as my renewals ran out. In the nine weeks I had the book, I had only managed to read half a book. It's the sort of story that is so resplendent in language that I needed to record my favorite quotes. These I collected through live blogging on Tumblr.
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LibraryThing member klpm
Greenglass House by Kate Milford is everything I've ever wanted in a middle grade story, both kid-me and adult-me. This story has

local history
mysterious maps
role-playing games
like, a million mysteries
an adoptive family
a creaky old house with an attic full of goodies and
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stained glass windows
evening stories by a fireplace

The way this all comes together is brilliant. Milo is the Chinese adopted son of the Pines, owners of Greenglass House, a smugglers' inn on the east coast. It's the first day of his winter vacation and he's excited because the inn is usually empty at this time of year, which means free time for him and his parents. Unexpectedly, though, guests start showing up and they are a strange bunch. Luckily, a friend also shows up for Milo and they begin a private role-playing adventure that eventually gets put to use in solving some very real mysteries.

I told my husband around mid-book that we would have both LOVED this book as a kid. I loved it now. I think the kid will love it. I want to read it again and again. I want to go to a smugglers' inn and search through the attic. And ... I want to start reading as many other Kate Milford books as I can get my hands on.
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LibraryThing member krau0098
This is the third book I have read by Milford, I really have enjoyed her books a lot. They are always filled with a wonderful sense of nostalgia, along with excellent mystery, and some magical realism. This was a magical book to read in the winter, especially over winter break. This book is mainly
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a mystery but also deals with ghosts and adoption.

Milo (who is adopted) and his family run an inn in the middle of smuggler territory. They host a number of interesting guests who are partaking in not so legal smuggling activities. That being said they rarely have guests over Christmas break and Milo is excited to have his parents to himself. That is when the bell rings for the first time...and then again and again. Now it looks like Greenglass House is going to be packed with a number of quirky guests over winter break.

When people’s items start disappearing things really get tense. Then Milo decides to join up with the daughter of one of the employees, Meddy, and try and solve the mystery of who is thieving. In addition to solving the mystery behind the thefts, they are trying to uncover the mystery of why all these quirky people are at Greenglass House over Christmas and how they all tie in with the history of the house.

This was a fun read that I would recommend if you are a fan of my mysteries with some magic in them. This book takes place during a snowstorm and over Christmas break, so it makes it a perfect winter read. I loved the descriptions of winter weather, being a Minnesotan, I could really relate to some of the winter problems they were having.

As with all of Milford’s books this book has a sort of nostalgic feel to it. All the characters are in this old house and they are fairly isolated because of the storm. For a portion of the book they also don’t have power and are forced to resort to using candles, etc.

I also really enjoyed the fact that Milo and Meddy decide to ‘play’ a live role-playing game to solve the mystery. They each make up character sheets and try to embody the personalities of their characters while they are solving the mystery. In the past there has been a lot of hatred toward role-playing games in certain crowds, and I loved how this book showed how helpful role-playing can be to some kids/people. Milo truly benefits from pretending to be someone different for awhile. He is able to go out of his comfort zone (he suffers from some anxiety problems) and learns how capable he is.

I also really enjoyed the quirky characters that showed up to stay at the house. They all have secrets and at times the book has a bit of a Clue, who done it, type of feel. I love that the characters start getting together to tell stories to each other after dinner at night. This gives the book that story within a story feel as well.

There is also some discussion about adoption. Milo is grateful for his current family but also really would love to know something about his birth family. This theme ties in with another character who was adopted who shows up at Greenglass House in an effort to find out something about his birth family.

There are also some magical elements that come into the story in the form of ghosts. However, I won’t say more than that since how that plays into the story is one of the major twists in the story.

Overall this was a wonderfully magically story that makes a perfect winter read. It’s mostly a nostalgic mystery of sorts with some light magical elements. I really enjoyed the setting, the descriptive writing, and the quirky characters. This didn’t get five stars because at times I had trouble engaging with Meddy and Milo. There were also some slow points in the story where I had trouble staying engaged in the story. However, like all of Milford’s book, this was an excellent story that really embodies well done traditional story-telling. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend for all readers middle grade and older.
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LibraryThing member Sheila1957
Milo expects he and his parents will be celebrating a quiet Christmas when suddenly the inn fills up with strangers. But these strangers all have secrets that include his home. Milo and Meddy who comes to help with Mrs. Carraway and her daughter start playing a game to discover who and what these
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strangers are up to. Will Christmas just be the family or will it include these strangers?

I enjoyed this book. Milo and Meddy are fun as they become the characters in the game they play. The strangers are an interesting group of people as are the regulars to the inn. Each tells a story as suggested by Milo and as I read the stories they told I figured each one was talking of him/herself through the story. Milo and Meddy listen and observe and put together their clues. I will admit I did not see the twists coming until I was hit over the head with them. A detective I'll never be but this story was an excellent read. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
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LibraryThing member ShellyPYA
At Greenglass House, a smuggler's inn, twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers' adopted son, plans to spend his winter holidays relaxing but soon guests are arriving with strange stories about the house sending Milo and Meddy, the cook's daughter, on an adventure.
LibraryThing member bookwren
One of the best middle grade mysteries I've read: well-written, deeply-plotted, insights into being adopted, fascinating setting with well-developed history and folklore, strong characters.
LibraryThing member CarrieWuj
A kid book club pick and a nice alternative to the post-apocalyptic, dystopian stories that dominate the YA shelves. This is fanciful, heart-warming and mysterious. Milo and his adoptive parents live in and run an old Inn that is often frequented by smugglers due to its river port location. During
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a pre-Christmas snowstorm several guests show up unexpectedly, with agendas that center on the house and its history. To Milo's thinking their presence is simply to ruin his relaxing break and holiday with his family. However once he begins to investigate their secrets and background via a role-playing game, he learns a lot about the various characters, his house and his own family. Several unexpected plot turns make this a gripping read -- a good book to ingest with a warm drink and cozy fire.
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LibraryThing member Lisa2013
This book had been on my list for a long time and I have many GR friends who’ve enjoyed it so I decided to read it and stick with it no matter how I felt about it. I’d been on a streak of reading nothing but great books right for my mood at the time but recently I’d been having a hard time
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finding a book I wanted to read. Either they didn’t feel worth picking up or I started them and could feel no enthusiasm for continuing. I’m in the mood for certain books not yet available. I know there must be many books that would be working for me but I haven’t been able to think of them.

I enjoyed this book but until I was far into the book it did not call to me and it was a chore to pick it up. That was my mood more than the book. Once again I found it harder to want to start reading because of the very long chapters (maybe 30 minutes each, perfect for bedtime stories but not for me these days.) I did end up enjoying it though and I’m really glad I read it.

I loved the humor.

The foods & drinks described was scrumptious, especially all the hot chocolate.

I hated the violence. Gun violence which seemed a tad out of place. I wish the bad guy(s) had been less villainous. It seemed a bit over the top, especially for this story.

I knew that there was a supernatural aspect to this book but until the reveal I couldn’t quite figure out precisely what it was. There were certainly abundant clues but they went right over my head. It’s tempting to reread it (someday) to know from the beginning what is going on.

I found the game tedious at times and fun at times.

This is a great book about the adoption and I found the author’s note in the back of the book affecting.

Even though I was enjoying the book, I didn’t think I’d be interested in reading any sequel and I probably won’t, but I found the last two chapters touching and fun and I could be being interested enough to read beyond this book.

This would be a good book to read around Christmastime.

For much of the book I thought it would be a 3 star book but it ended up being a solid 4 star worthy book for me.
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LibraryThing member reader1009
children's fantasy fiction (treasure hunt quest with lots of odd mysterious characters). This one looks like a good adventure, and would probably make a good read aloud, depending on your audience.
LibraryThing member RobertaLea
This is a book I'd have enjoyed as young reader... 4th or 5th grade. I saw the anomaly as an adult, but I'm not sure I'd have caught when I was a kid. Very good. very fun.
LibraryThing member JessicaReadsThings
This book did and did not go where I think it was going to go. Some of the plot lines were predictable, but others I didn't figure out before they were revealed. This is one of those rare books that is written probably for a juvenile audience, but never feels juvenile. I also liked the sort of
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Dungeons and Dragons shout out (although in the novel it is called a benign "Odd Trails.")
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½ (250 ratings; 3.9)
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