Book of the Week

REVIEW: The Secrets of Winterhouse


Author: Ben Guterson

Ages: 11-15

Twelve-year-old Elizabeth, newfound granddaughter of the manager of the world’s awesomest hotel ever, has just arrived at Winterhouse (AKA awesomest hotel ever) to find that her best and only real friend, Freddy, has been adventuring with another (pretty!) kind of creepy girl. Who has the world’s most venomous gran. And is friends with the meanest boy/book thief ever, who, by the way, is busy ripping the library to pieces and mugging chefs. At least she’s got a new puzzle – the mysterious, confusing Winterhouse seal.

The Secrets of Winterhouse is packed with word puzzles, although I think that Winterhouse (book one) had way more interesting ones. I still can’t really work out the pattern of the last word of each chapter. I know they’re made up of letters of some of the other words in the chapter name, but can’t really find any consistent algorithm. If you’ve found one, please share. It’s really bothering me. OK sorry I got a bit of track but OK…

Although it is a kids-save-world/city/county/hotel book, it makes a lot of sense why only they do. I don’t entirely understand how no-one figured out the secrets of the seal for centuries, but I suppose they did have help from previous generations…

It is captivating. It’s a bit darker than the previous book, although I think not as creepy. The previous book averaged out quite happy, despite the creepy bits, because it has quite a lot of skiing, exploring, sweets, Christmas parties and mountain views. This book doesn’t. The wide open mountains and forests seem more threatening, for example. And there’s a bunch of women who apparently have started some sort of power-hording religion, but there isn’t much mention of it.

The bad guys of previous book seemed a bit uncreative, the sort who instantly seem bad to the protagonists. It seems that you can’t have one slightly grumpy person who might accidentally walk into somebody AND doesn’t plan to blow up the planet. The Secrets of Winterhouse allows the plotters to occasionally be forgiven, try to help stop the blowing up of the planet (for example), or at least have a backstory and aren’t pure evil. It’s a small thing, hardly noticeable in this book, but the fact that characters other than Elizabeth and Freddy are allowed to develope and change and that it isn’t always clear whether a person is trying to destroy the universe or save it makes a huge difference in the overall impression

I enjoyed it more than Winterhouse, because
  a) The plot is more complicated
  b) The characters are more alive
  c) It’s more realistic (not as in ‘less magic’ but ‘more likely happen in the circumstances,          makes more sense’)
  b) It’s less predictable/obvious




By storiesnstuff22over7

Books, dogs & nerdy things

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