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 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 peoples 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 Milfords 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 dont 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 wont 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. Its mostly a nostalgic mystery of sorts with some light magical elements. I really enjoyed the setting, the descriptive writing, and the quirky characters. This didnt 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 Milfords 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.