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Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford
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Ghosts of Greenglass House

by Kate Milford

Other authors: Jaime Zollars (Illustrator)

Series: Greenglass House (2)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Milo Pine, his family, and a number of his friends return in this marvelous follow-up to Greenglass House, one which is every bit as atmospheric, every bit as mysterious, and every bit as involving as its predecessor. It is Christimas-time again, and Milo, still smarting from some recent experiences at school with an insensitive teacher, is attempting in vain to get into the holiday spirit. Missing Meddy, who hasn't shown herself since the previous year, Milo is excited when Clem and Georgie return to the inn, this time on the lam from some shady confederates. Having attempted a heist involving artefacts that once belonged to Violet Cross - Nagspeake's most famous runner (i.e.: smuggler) - the girls come to Greenglass House to hide out, when things go wrong. No sooner have they arrived however, than an odd assortment of strangers once again descends upon the inn, this time in the form of the Waits - a group of Christmas carolers who preserve the ancient traditions of the season. Now the Pines once again have a packed house, and Milo must solve a number of different mysteries. Is Cantlebone - a legendary thief admired by both Georgie and Clem - also after the Violet Cross haul, and has he come to Greenglass House? Is there an agent of Gilawfer, the unscrupulous fence who is tracking Clem and Georgie, in the mix? Who is Emmett Syebuck, the overly enthusiastic art student who never seems to want to leave? Will Milo be able to answer these and other questions, and will he be able to reunite the two eponymous ghosts of Greenglass House - Meddy, and her father, Doc Holystone...?

It's quite rare that I enjoy a sequel more than the original book, but Ghosts of Greenglass House is such a delightful, charming tale, one that I found appealing on so many different levels, that I think it safe to say that it is one of those deviations from the rule. With one small exception (more on that later), I loved everything about this book, from the front cover - artwork here is provided by the talented Jaime Zollars, who also worked on the first book - to the final page. I loved the Christmas-time setting, and found Greenglass House itself just as much of a character in its own right, as in the first book. I always appreciate authors who can make you feel invested in place, who can create such an engrossing locale/environment, that you feel that the story simply wouldn't be the same, without that setting. Kate Milford certainly has done that here, and I am eager to jump into the third Greenglass House book, Bluecrowne! I also loved the Christmas doings and customs introduced by the band of Waits, all of which are based on some very ancient real-world folklore and beliefs. The figures of the sweep and the hobby horse, and the details about the latter in particular, are just fascinating. Milford captures the eldritch charm and beauty of this ghostly equine figure, both in the scene in which the Waits come to Greenglass House, and in the inset story related by Lucy, later on in the book. The role played by the hobby horse, toward the conclusion of the book, is both spine-chilling and (oddly) heartwarming. I loved the deepening sense of Nagspeake and the Skidwrack as places here, and the greater knowledge we are given of them in the story. It's clear that Nagspeake is some kind of independent political entity, located (I believe) somewhere in the Middle Atlantic region of the United States. The importance of story itself, something also touched upon in Greenglass House, is expanded upon here, and the tales told by some of the Waits, addressing the history and nature of the Liberty of Gammerbund - a semi-autonumous area within Nagspeake - were intensely involving, and absolutely amazing. I love the story within a story structure, one that is well established in world literature (everything from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales to Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), and can't wait for the publication of The Raconteur's Commonplace Book, a collection mentioned in both novels, which sets out some of the tales told in Milford's fictional world of Nagspeake. The characters all felt vibrantly alive, and I enjoyed returning to those of them who also appeared in the first book, and meeting those that were debuting here. Clem and George were more appealing than ever, as were Meddy and Milo. As for Marzana and her parents, I hope to see more of them in the future! Finally, I loved the resolution of this second mystery, precisely because I thought I saw everything coming, after the surprises at the conclusion of the first book, but was proved wrong. I felt sure I was prepared, but there were reveals that I didn't expect at all - well done, Kate Milford, in pulling that off a second time!

As should be apparent, I enjoyed Ghosts of Greenglass House immensely, and it really would have been one of my rare five-star books, were it not for a single discordant note (the aforementioned exception). Although I do appreciate the sensitive way that Milford dealt with Milo's mixed feelings about being a Chinese adoptee of a white couple, both here and in the previous book, I thought there was something of a lack of clarity, in the way she handled the issue of Milo's teacher, and how one should approach a situation in which people have competing ideas and perceptions about history and/or culture. It's clear that the teacher is a bit arrogant and "know-it-all-ish" (as Milo would put it), as he refuses to listen to Milo, when he tries to mention the partial Chinese heritage of the builders of Greenglass House. Mr. Chancelor thinks he knows the history of Nagspeake better, and Milo is so distraught about the situation that he never presents any evidence or aguments to back up his counter-claim. It's worth noting that Mr. Chancelor is insensitive and a little clueless, as evidenced by his assumption that Milo will be able to understand Chinese, just because of his ethnic identity. I liked how these issues were discussed, both between Milo and his father, and between Milo and Owen, Clem's fiancee, who is (like Milo) also a Chinese adoptee of a white couple. Where it all broke down for me was in the scene in which Milo realizes that he has hurt Marzana, with his story about Violet Cross, and his further realization that he, in his subsequent discussion with her, is inadvertently playing the role of Mr. Chancelor. I thought that this provided the perfect opportunity for him to gain a little insight into his own situation, and to grow a little in wisdom, at it concerns how we communicate with one another, and what to do when we disagree. After all, here's someone (Marzana) who is distraught at the fact that he has presented a historical narrative (a story about Violet Cross) that is (in her view) wrong. Although her hurt is apparent, and is addressed by Milo immediately (to his credit), its cause is not (at least, until much later), and she refuses to elaborate. Like Milo himself, she refuses to present an argument more extensive than "you're wrong." Rather than leading him to a moment of understanding of his own situation, a moment in which he realizes that if he wants Mr. Chancelor to acknowledge his point (about Greenglass House specifically, and about Nagspeake in general), he will have to provide something more than his feelings - he will have to make a compelling argument, and present evidence to back it up - he instead is simply horrified about the emotional aspect of it all, and his role in hurting another. Now this is a very minor scene, in an otherwise outstanding novel, but it highlights a wider social problem that has really been bothering me recently, which is this idea that emotion trumps reason, and that argument and evidence are irrelevant, in the face of that emotion. I believe that this is an immensely harmful outlook, one that is becoming increasingly dominant in our current cultural zeitgeist, and one that can lead us to very dark places. Does this one scene ruin the book? By no means, this is still a high 4.5-star title for me. Do I think it is a "mistake?" No, but I do think it reveals a philosophical difference between myself and the author, one that, given the strength of my belief on the subject, detracted from my enjoyment.

No doubt others will perceive this matter differently, and it is (as I have acknowledged) a minor scene within the story, so I would not hesitate to recommend this one to other readers who enjoyed Greenglass House. After all, the positives here far, far outweigh this one negative. Marvelously written, intricately constructed, wonderfully conceived - this is an outstanding children's novel. I hope that Milford will bring us more of Milo and all his friends, and much more from Nagspeake, the Skidwrack, and the Liberty... ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Dec 2, 2018 |
I enjoyed the first book in the Greenglass House series but I just couldn’t get into this one. I received “Bluecrowne” for review and thought I would try to read “Ghosts of Greenglass House” before I read “Bluecrowne”. I put this book down and picked it back up a number of times but finally gave up. This was a bummer for me because I have really enjoyed all of Milford’s other books.

My main issue with this book was that too many characters were introduced too rapidly. I also just couldn’t get into the mystery. At about 170 pages in I stopped reading it.

The story starts very slowly with a number of characters being introduced (just like in the first book). One of them steals something from another guest and Milo must assume a different persona (like he did in the last book) to solve the mystery. It takes a long time for the ghosts to show up and I really thought the story was incredibly slow. Additionally, the story was very similar to the first book.

Overall I wasn’t a fan of this book at all. It was slow, hard to engage with, and boring. It mimics the first book in many ways but I didn’t think it was nearly as good. I will still be reading “Bluecrowne” since I got it for review and it is supposed to stand on its own well. I had also wanted to read the “Kairos Mechanism” but now I am thinking about waiting on getting that one. ( )
  krau0098 | Oct 22, 2018 |
This was good, but the first one is my favorite of the two. ( )
  bookcookie1920 | Mar 20, 2018 |
Literary Merit: Very Good
Characterization: Great
Recommended: Highly Recommended
Reading Level: Tween/Middle Grade

This absolutely charming mystery takes place in the idyllic, fanciful town of Nagspeake, where smugglers and thieves abound and ghosts haunt the mysterious inn, Greenglass House. The book is part of Milford's series on the Greenglass House, but reading the first book isn't necessary to enjoy this delightful tale. Milo, an adopted Chinese-American boy with anxiety, finds himself wrapped up in a mystery when a whole crowd of unusual guests descend upon his family's inn during the Christmas holiday. The whole thing reads like a fantastical Agatha Christie novel for young readers, and it's great. Milford also addresses Milo's struggles with his anxiety, and with the unknowing racism of those around him, in a gentle and nuanced way that's sure to resonate with young readers. The underlying theme of finding courage and compassion within yourself is also a beautiful and nice touch, and there are some genuinely shocking twists that would make Christie herself proud. ( )
  SWONroyal | Dec 5, 2017 |
This story starts exactly a year after the first one ends, on the first day of winter vacation at the inn. Only, this year, there's no snow--only disappointing frost--and also a guest who keeps extending his stay. So, once again, Milo has to cope with a non-standard break that only gets crazier as the days pass. Filled with Nagspeakian history and lore, indoor adventures, and, yes, ghosts, this was another amazing read.

I love Kate Milford's books for so many reasons but I realized a new one this time. She normalizes late risers! Milo and his parents keep late hours because they need to take care of inn guests so they stay up past midnight and then get up at 9 or 10 in the morning and IT'S OKAY. These are people who keep different hours and they aren't lazy or missing out or anything else. They have activities, conversations, and adventures late into the night instead. Thank you, Kate! There were also great discussions about respecting boundaries, more about adoption, and even some lessons on lock-picking. I loved it all.

http://webereading.com/2017/11/new-release-ghosts-of-greenglass-house.html ( )
1 vote klpm | Nov 29, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Milfordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Zollars, JaimeIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul.
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"Twelve-year-old Milo is stuck spending the winter holidays in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem-again! He will have to work with friends old and new to uncover clues in search of a mysterious map and a famous smuggler's lost haul"--… (more)

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