Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (PWBR00174)
Plot or Premise
A young girl who lives with her aunt and uncle is sent under mysterious circumstances to a resort hotel for Christmas break.
What I Liked
The story has a bit of a Harry Potter-esque feel to it at the start — things happening that seem magical, parents dead, not very nice relatives, and leaving on an adventure. The resort hotel is called Winterhouse and is an amazing place to hang out for a vacation. There’s another kid like her who enjoys puzzles, and she meets a few interesting characters who either live at the hotel or are other guests. The magical elements are “just right” (not too much, not too little).
What I Didn’t Like
I chose it as an Edgar Award nominee, and it was a bit disappointing that there are two plot inconsistencies, almost like no one did a continuity edit on the book for point of view. At one point, Elizabeth doesn’t know anything about what’s going on or why her aunt and uncle have “sent” her to Winterhouse, and then she reveals that she overheard her aunt and uncle talking about it the previous week and she knows everything there was to know (someone else paid them to send her). In another spot, two characters are revealed as the schemers, but another character knew all about her arrival and some of her backstory, yet didn’t know the biggest piece which is the only reason he would know anything about her. Finally, if you have ever read a male-centric story and felt like the woman had nothing to do but be a damsel in distress, you’ll feel the same way seeing the other kid be completely irrelevant to the story. He adds a bit of Fifth Busines background info, as do some puzzle guys, but pretty lame. I am not sure the constant word puzzles add anything to the story, they didn’t for me, but easily tolerated.