WINTERHOUSE, by Ben Guterson
Review by Annie Cronin Romano
Orphan Elizabeth Somers, an 11-year-old with a passion for anagrams and a love of reading, is angry about being sent to a hotel for her Christmas holiday while her miserly aunt and uncle go on a vacation she knows they cannot afford. But when Elizabeth arrives at Winterhouse, magic and mystery unfold. There’s the creepy couple—always dressed in black—who take an odd interest in Elizabeth’s reading habits, the curious book Elizabeth sneaks from the hotel library’s reference section, the kind hotel proprietor, Norbridge Falls, whose magic tricks and wisdom enchant Elizabeth from the moment she arrives, and the mysterious code hidden in plain sight in a Falls family portrait. As Elizabeth and her new friend Freddy (who shares her love for anagrams) try to solve the code, Elizabeth realizes that Winterhouse is in jeopardy and she may be the only person who can save it. WINTERHOUSE (Henry Hold & Co., 2018) is a charming middle grade mystery full of intriguing puzzles, new friendships, and self-discovery. Get yourself a cup of cocoa, curl up under a blanket, and enjoy this atmospheric magical realism adventure! It's a backlist treasure!
In WINTERHOUSE, Ben Guterson depicts the necessity of positive human connections as Elizabeth, a very lonely child, discovers there’s a learning curve in being a good friend and a joy that comes from friendship and from others truly wanting her company. Guterson’s atmospheric, vivid creation of the hotel is a solid example of a setting so well-developed it goes beyond mere backdrop to become another character in the story. And the magic continues: there are now two more books in the WINTERHOUSE series! To learn more about Ben Guterson’s work, visit his website at www.benguterson.com.
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