Book: Winterhouse (Winterhouse #1)
Author: Ben Guterson
Genre(s) / Theme(s): middle grade, fantasy, mystery, fiction, christmas, holiday, magic, puzzles, adventure
Date Read: 2 December 2021
Description from Goodreads:
“Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms―most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse. As fate would have it, Elizabeth is the only person who can break the hotel’s curse and solve the mystery. But will it be at the cost of losing the people she has come to care for, and even Winterhouse itself?
Mystery, adventure, and beautiful writing combine in this exciting debut richly set in a hotel full of secrets”
This was outside of my reading comfort zone; being middle-grade level, I wasn’t sure what to expect but as it was kind of a “read along” with some folks in my pen pal group I decided to give it a try. It also offered a nice break between heaver subjects I’d been reading about, which was nice. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this one!
Reading the description, I was immediately curious about this house and the secrets it holds. Here are some of the highlights for me:
- Elizabeth is very relatable. I like how deliberate she is, and how determined she is. I like how curious and inquisitive she is, without being obnoxious…though there are a couple times I wish she would have just left things alone.
- Freddy is charming and I’m so glad he and Elizabeth met. The end of this book was heartwarming and I’m so happy they made up. In the same way Elizabeth is mature for her age, Freddy is as well. I attribute this to being left alone often and having to keep himself entertained and out of trouble.
- Norbridge remains mysterious yet likeable – you don’t quite know what he’s up to or what his motive is.
- Original storyline was refreshing.
- There’s an interesting timelessness about this book. It’s modern – talk of laptops and such – but something about it feels old or other
- I want to visit Winterhouse – it sounds so magical!
- I really appreciated that the writing style was simplicist for a middle grade book, however it wasn’t too simple.
- I really like that when breaking to a new chapter, it retains continuity (rather than jumping to a new branch of story right away).
- For the audiobook, the narrator is very good for this tale. She sounds similar to how Elizabeth sounds in my head – not too young, a hint of maturity from having to live and cope with her aunt & uncle and all the kids who make fun of her, etc.
- The narrator does a good job with the other voices too – there’s enough distinction that you can keep them straight, but not over-acted.
Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants a break from heaver reading. It’s pretty quick to get through, and as I said – even being a middle-grade book I didn’t feel like I was being talked down to, or that things were overly simplified.