Book Review: Ghosts of Greenglass House

Like the first book in this series by Kate Milford, Ghosts of Greenglass House slowly unfolds into a dense and multi-faceted story, and the reader’s patience is rewarded. At the heart of the Greenglass House stories is Milo, a 13-year-old boy whose keen eye and attention to detail helps to solve a mystery unfolding in his adopted parents’ hotel — The Greenglass House.

Milo, with help of a ghost companion, Meddy, is friends with two smugglers, who arrive in the dead of night to kick off the story, as they tell a tale of a botched robbery. Then, a group of visitors from a nearby isolated community — a safe haven place — arrive as part of a holiday tradition, but someone in their midst is a criminal mastermind. In fact, it is soon apparent that the hotel has become a sort of den of thieves.

The story then settles into a ghost story/locked room mystery, as Milo seeks to discover who is hiding who they are, and locate pieces of what could be a very interesting map of the community of Nagspeak where they live — a place full of epic stories of pirates and plunder and criminals, and a geographic conundrum where islands and waterways shift so much that a regular map is useless.

The casual reader, particularly if you have not first read The Greenglass House, might be confused by all these threads, but Milford rewards patience by the end, as Milo’s intriguing sense of deduction and reliance on his ghost friend, Meddy, solves the mystery, and more.

This is an interesting tale, aimed at middle and high school readers who love a solid mystery whose pieces only fit together by the end, and the house itself — with its amazing glass art windows and hidden spaces — is a fine setting for such a tale. Milo, also, is complex as a character, grappling with his biological past — his Asian roots means he stands out in the school and town where he lives — even as his adoptive parents show love and grace, always.

Peace (tinted and reflected),

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