Book Review: The Girl Who Drank The Moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill is one of the freshest stories I’ve read in years. If you love fairy tales, strong storytelling, lyrical writing and a bit of quirkiness, this is the book for you.

My top ten reasons to love The Girl Who Drank the Moon:

1. Wonderfully weird  –  It is a quirky blend of dark fantasy and humour, a super cool blend of ~Oooh~ and HA! It’s a story that tugs your heart-strings and tickles your sides. The lyrical prose soothes while the stark truths stab you in the heart. It’s disturbing, entertaining, heartwarming, intriguing, satisfying … and plain old good.

2. Adorable characters:

  • My Luna – A Mini Foxie x Jack Russell Terrier.

    Luna – How can you not feel for this kid? She’s literally out of control, but she’s so lovable and feisty and unique. Nevertheless, steps must be taken to contain the child, and the effects are drastic and rather sad. It’s reminiscent of  how kids today are medicated with psychotropic drugs like Ritalin. I know (professionally) such medications can be helpful and are (sometimes) necessary, but what’s lost? Are those losses quantifiable? Are they retrievable? Laying aside the big philosophical and ethical issues of sedating children, the real reason I was attracted to this book was the protagonist’s name. Luna! It’s such a pretty name. (Luna is my darling little doggie’s name. When I saw “Luna” in the book’s summary, I  knew this was a book for me!)

  • Fyrion, the stunted dragon who believes he’s enormous, is completely endearing. He had some of the funniest lines in the book. I liked him so much I want to name a future pet Fyrion, but it would have to be a reptile, and I can’t go there so…
  • Xan the misunderstood old witch. What a great character. Generous, kind and principled—and she makes mistakes.
  • Glerk, the swamp monster-poet and theologian  is so steadfast, so stable.
    Put the four together, sprinkle some Kelly Barnhill brand pixie dust, and KaPOW! Magic and delight on the pages.

3. Fantastic world building – “In the beginning was the bog … the bog is the poet and the poet is the bog …” Sounds silly here, but in the world of the book, the swamp monster’s origin story was perfect. Then there’s the wood and the bog and the volcano. The dreadful history of the Protectorate. The Sorrow Eater’s spectre. Magic that thrums and glows in Technicolor with flashes of silver. The shameful politics! So much to admire.

4. The lyrical writing – I noticed quite a few reviewers who tired of the writer’s repetition. It is true that the author’s makes great use of repetition, but it’s not arbitrary. The Mad Woman repeats, “She is here, she is here, she is here. ” It’s both a symptom of her madness and a device in the book. It was cleverly used, when her daughter picked up the phrase. To the nay-sayers, I suggest they “hear” the prose rather than just read it. It sounds sublime. Listen to the audiobook to experience the musicality of the prose. You may change your mind.

5. And speaking of the audiobook, the narration was pitch-perfect. Narrator Christina Moore gives a  stupendous performance. It was beguiling and heart-rending and joyful. A lot of my attraction to Xan had to do with the narrator’s voice. There was something beguiling about Xan’s voice. I rarely pick audio books by the narrator, but I will definitely look for out for her.

6. The storytelling – intriguing, exciting, and ultimately satisfying.

7. The cover – (a little in-text joke there, not a typo) The cover. It’s tantalising!

8. The words – Kelly Barnhill  lavishes beautiful, challenging words on her young readers. (She says she had fifth graders in mind when she wrote it. I love that she extends rather than simplifies.) This book may make its readers into logophiles.

9. The fluid concept of family – This story portrays different types of families. I especially like the “family” of Xan, Fyrion, Glerk and Luna. The ending of story initiates a beautiful new family constellation (I’m treading carefully to avoid spoilers…). Kids in adoptive, kinship or foster homes may be able to relate and find encouragement in the variety of loving, positive arrangements the book portrays.

10. Uplifting themes – Love and hope triumph over malice and sorrow. More than ever before, in this shifty, grey age of fake news and imploding politics, we need stories of hope and love .

How Good?

4.7 stars good. A few niggly little things made me scratch my head, but none was serious enough to mar my enjoyment of the book.

I have ordered a physical copy for my favourites shelf — that’s how good.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Read (and like) more of my reviews on Goodreads.

Image Credit

Flock of Geese, Photo by Ethan Weil on Unsplash

My Favourite Five Reads – 2016


Some people evaluate the passing year in wins; others in sales, gigs, or publications. I have a tradition of summing up a year in titles. Out of the (nearly) fifty books I read in 2016, here is my annual list of best reads.

My Favourite Five

David Copperfield by Charles Dickensdavidcopperfield

I blogged about this one shortly after reading it. (Read it here).

I  confess that I loved  this book so much I was compelled me to buy a special (used) Folio Society edition as a keepsake. (Hey, don’t judge me. I write Victorian fiction. It’s an investment in a resource, right?)


JonathanStrangeMrNorrellbySusannaClarkeJonathan Strange and Mr Norrell  by Susanna Clarke

Gosh, I loved this book, but it isn’t one I readily thrust into friends’ hands. I’m not entirely sure others will love it as much as I did. It is weird and dark and really long. I put off reading it for years, because its oozing footnotes seemed like they’d be a dreary chore to read. (They weren’t!)

Ultimately, its brilliant premise won me over: What if once upon a time English Magic existed, but it faded into obscurity and is all but forgotten? And what if one man seeks to revive it for the good of the realm?

Mr Norrell is a magician and a pernickety, reclusive man who, after years of rigorous solo study, performs powerful magic that makes him an instant celebrity. Soon the English government is calling on his services to rectify civil disasters and gain military advantage over enemies. English Magic is making a comeback so big he has to take on a student. Enter the charismatic Jonathan Strange, quite a different character altogether. Together, they do great good for England, and all is well until the teacher and the pupil clash.

Susanna Clarke’s world building is extraordinary thanks in part to the footnotes I mentioned. She references a fictitious canon of books of magical scholarship. It’s fascinating how much plausibility and texture this quirky little device added. I listened to the audio version (which was exquisite), and surprisingly the footnotes weren’t a bother at all. (Reviews of the digital version indicated that the footnotes were a nuisance.) In an interview with the New York Magazine, she explains how she achieved such realism in a book about magic. “One way of grounding the magic is by putting in lots of stuff about street lamps, carriages and how difficult it is to get good servants.”

So who is Susanna Clarke? Here are some fascinating facts:

  • JS&MN is her debut novel (but she works in publishing).
  • She put ten years into the manuscript, sometimes fearing she’d never finish it.
  • After two rejections by publishers, Bloomsbury offered her a £1 million advance on an unfinished manuscript! (2003)
  • She (apparently) hasn’t written another novel.

Clarke didn’t have a name for the book’s genre, though there are plenty of possibilities offered, from pastiche to fantasy to alternative history. I believe it is gaslamp fantasy, which means it is an alternative history with a magical twist. (Read about gaslamp fantasy here.) The subplots were intriguing; the characters unforgettable; and the settings vividly eerie in their coldness. Set at the dawn of the Nineteenth Century with the Napoleonic Wars brewing and raging, Lord Byron and Lord Wellington play important parts in the book.

If you’re not up for  a 36-hour audio book or an 800-page book, check out the BBC’s TV mini series. If I haven’t convinced you, consider this article that says Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is “just as magical as Harry Potter.” I’d love to know if you’re as smitten as I am. [For grown-ups (and precocious younger readers who love footnotes)]

The Lie Tree by Frances HardingeTheLieTreebyFrancisHardinge

Winner of the 2016 Costa Book of the Year, this was another title in my  gaslamp fantasy binge. I’d seen a flurry of articles about Frances Hardinge online, and was intrigued by the woman who wears a fedora for its sense of adventure.  She’s a master storyteller: her writing in The Lie Tree is utterly captivating, the plot is surprising, and the themes are big and important—everything we bookworms hope a book could be.

The protagonist Faith, 14 and stuck in a ‘training corset’, grapples with heady topics: societal conventions and  limitations on women, the discovery of the flaws in her father’s character, the clash of science and religion in Victorian England, and the mob mentality of people. Big ideas, fresh characters, and lovely writing made this one deliciously memorable. [MG]

TimWintoCloudstreetCloudstreet by Tim Winton

I mistook Cloudstreet as an ordinary tragicomical family drama, which didn’t overly excite me even if it’s considered a modern Aussie classic and one of Australia’s favourite books. But when I saw it classified as magical realism, I was instantly intrigued. I knew I had to read it as research for my  WIP Finding Graceland.

The audio version is performed to perfection by Peter Hosking, who brought Tim Winton’s lush writing into full Technicolor splendour. Read it—you’ll never forget the characters or how the book gripped your  heart. [For grown ups]

EchoPamMunozRyanEcho by Pam Muñoz Ryan

I mentioned above I was seeking magical realism books to read, and this was one of them. I loved its light touch, but most of all I was impressed with the book’s beautiful structure.

Echo tells the stories of three young people in the WWII era, who are connected by, well … an enchanted harmonica. Now, as weird as that sounds, it is an amazing tale, full of music and heartbreak, pathos and redemption.The whole thing is bracketed in an original fairy tale. The ending is one of the most satisfying I can remember. Don’t let the harmonica-fairy tale thing throw you. This book is swoon-worthy.  [MG/YA]

Over to You

Have you read any of the titles above? Leave your thoughts in the comments. Happy reading in the coming months!

Image Credit: Ian Schneider, CC0, via Unsplash

STEM – Making Room For Girls


ada_lovelace_portrait-1 CC011 October is Ada Lovelace Day, a commemoration the plucky Nineteenth Century woman who pioneered computer programming. Ada was the daughter of brooding poet Lord Byron. Ada’s mother, who feared her daughter would inherit some of her father’s flamboyant poetic tendencies, put Ada on a strict diet of mathematics and logic.

The result was a fabulously gifted mathematical mind. Her mentor, Charles Babbage, referred to her as “The Enchantress of Numbers.” The efforts to curb the Byron flamboyance were not as successful. Apparently, Ada was odd. (As a Quirky Kid advocate and die-hard fan, I suspect today we would celebrate — or at least allow for — her neuro-diversity).

Ada Lovelace Day & STEM

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, all areas that have remained relatively closed to women and girls. 11 October provides an occasion to encourage girls to study STEM subjects and celebrate the noteworthy achievements of STEM career women around the world. It’s also a day to consider:

How do we entice girls to study STEM subjects?

How do we break down the stereotypes that say STEM subjects are “for boys”?

Both can be encouraged by putting inspiring STEM books in the hands of both girls and boys. Give them exciting books about girls like Ada Lovelace. Introduce them to stories that incorporate maths, natural sciences, engineering and technology.

Recommended STEM Books for Kids

Case_Missing_Moonstone_Wollstonecraft_DetectiveMystery lovers will enjoy The Case of the Missing Moonstone, written by Jordan Stratford and illustrated by Kelly Murphy. This rollicking Regency romp stars Ada Byron and Mary Shelley (who wrote Frankenstein) as they put their superior minds to work on solving a whodunit. (MG)

4/5 Stars






The_Lie_Tree_FHardingeFrances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree by  is a brilliant book about a 14-year-old aspiring natural scientist growing up in Victorian England. This story has fossils galore, freaky flora, lashings of fantasy — and murder. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the very clever girl. (Upper MG)

I can’t recommend this book enough, which falls into my favourite genre, Gaslamp Fantasy.

5/5 Stars





Flavia_de_Luce_1No STEM list would be complete without the wonderful Flavia de Luce Series (also known as The Buckshaw Chronicles in some places)

by Alan Bradley. She’s debuts in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. This precocious eleven year old protagonist plays with poison—literally! She’s a budding chemist who lives in a manor, which houses its own laboratory, thanks to some bygone relatives who specialised in this branch of science. Her brand of naughtiness sometimes verges on outrageous, but she’s a delightful amateur sleuth nonetheless. MG, 4/5 stars

For Younger Children

Engibear‘s Dream and Engibear’s Bridge, written by Andrew King and illustrated by Benjamin Johnston, are the most delightful picture books about engineering. Honestly — read the sweet stories and feast your eyes on the amazing artwork. I dare not to be inspired! Be sure to check out the app and the website. (PB/JF)

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-52-23-am     screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-52-12-am    5/5 Stars

STEM Careers Focus

And for something a little different and way cool …

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-35-04-amThe Tech Girls Movement has created two books called Tech Girls Are Superheroes, which are available for free to school girls in Australia. Full of excitement and derring-do, these books are inspiring and downright fun.

Written and produced at QUT in Brisbane! Yay for homegrown books! The website offers resources for teachers and breaking news about STEM teaching and careers.




My own STEM story for middle grade readers is underway (a little more slowly than I wish). Watch out for updates about Winifred Weatherby Saves the Century.


Porotait of Ada by Alfred Edward Chalon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, CC0

Book Review: Gaslamp Anthology

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp FantasyQueen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy by Ellen Datlow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

According to Amazon, Gaslamp fantasy is “historical fantasy set in a magical version of the Nineteenth Century.” While its first cousin Steampunk emphasizes mechanics, science and steam power, Gaslamp plays with magical possibilities. Check out my exposé of the genre on Spilling Ink.

This anthology includes spinoffs of Dickens and references to real people of the Victorian era. Queen Vicki herself gets a cameo in at least two stories. One of her prime ministers, Benjamin Disraeli, stars in The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown while William Morris, textile designer, poet, translator and social activist, takes the stage in the story For the Briar Rose. This is definitely one of those books that whets your thirst for more information. I have a brand new fascination with both Morris and Disraeli and can’t wait to see where these rabbit holes lead me!

I listened to the audio version of this book. It’s one I wish I had read instead. Three of the stories are epistolary, which sometimes doesn’t lend itself to audio. The performance by narrator Kelly Lintz was fine, but it’s a book to dip into again and again. I will probably end up buying a physical copy for my shelves.

My Picks

The list below includes what I felt were the standout stories:

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells

by Delia Sherman (Epistolary – entries in a young Victoria’s diaries as she learns magic)


by Veronica Schanoes (Some very interesting social history here.)

The Vital Importance of the Superficial

by Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stervener (Epistolary, and superbly done.)

A Few Twigs He Left Behind

by Gregory Maguire (A fascinating epilogue of Scrooge)

Maguire’s offering in particular left me hankering for more of his writing (which surprised me because Wicked (the book) was not a big winner with me). I will also seek out works by Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner. Book one of the Tremontaine series has been ordered…

A Funny Little Aside…

I saw a newsworthy post  on Facebook about Australian illustrator Kathleen Jennings, whom I met a couple of months ago at a SCBWI meeting in Brisbane. I have since followed her blog and have become a fan of her gorgeous artwork. She does amazing paper cuts, water colours and pen and ink pieces.  She’s a very talented woman—and super-interesting, too.

So a couple of days ago on FB, I saw that her art was selected for a prestigious New York City art show, Point of Vision: Celebrating Women Artists in Fantasy and Science Fiction. I contacted her to ask if it would be okay to share her news and maybe a photo from her feed with the SCBWI ANZ network. She said yes, but the photos weren’t hers; they belonged to Ellen Kushner.

“No problem,” I said (ignorantly). “I’ll see what I can do.”

A little backstory before I go on: I’ve recently stepped into a new marketing and communications role, so I contacting “Ellen” to seek permission to use the photos was par-for-the-course. I searched for and found Ellen on Facebook and sent her a request. As you do (?)

The next morning on my drive to work, I was listening to my audio version of Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, and a new story started. The Vital Importance of the Superficial by … Ellen Kushner.

Hang on, I thought. Ellen Kushner, like … the lady I messaged last night?

Yep. Oh man. How weird is that? (How weird am I!?)

Anyway, enough with the weirdness. Check out Kathleen’s website. She regularly posts her art and thoughts. Congratulations to her for her achievement of a showing in NYC.

Here are a couple of the covers Kathleen did for Ellen Kushner’s Tremontaine Series. Aren’t they gorgeous? I’ve downloaded book one for a little sample.

27802236            28017845           28017798

Buy the Tremontaine books here (among other places). You can buy Kathleen’s artwork here.

View all my reviews

2015 Fiction Favourites

library-425730_640I didn’t come anywhere near reaching my goal of 75 books in 2015, but  I did finish writing two novels, so I have a reasonable excuse. I find it risky to read fiction while I’m writing; books with a strong voice are particularly problematic, as I’m afraid the voice of the book I’m reading will surface in my writing.

It’s not that I wasn’t reading; much of my reading was research for my novels, and I learned so much. I’ll blog about my non-fiction faves in coming weeks. In the meantime, here are my fiction headliners.

Most Memorable Reads of 2015

Between writing stints, I tucked into some wonderful fiction titles. Here are three stand-outs.

Ophelia&theMarvellousBoyOphelia & the Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee

As soon as I saw this book, I knew I’d love it. It’s about a girl whose father works in a museum in a city of perpetual winter. The museum setting is wonderfully enigmatic, but the frosty ambiance makes it perfect. While roaming through the museum’s eerily shifting galleries, Ophelia finds a boy who’s been waiting for her for a very long time–and the clock is literally ticking. Their adventure is both spellbinding and nail-biting.

I met the author Karen Foxlee this year–what a thrill! Ophelia has all the makings of a classic. 5 stars, no reservations. Suitable for 11 (10?) and up.Selfie with KarenFoxlee

Exciting News Flash: Karen has a new book up and coming! Watch out for A Most Magical Girl.


Fredrik Backman Grandma ApologisesMy Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman

Think of this one as Pippi Longstocking for big people. This book has the same Swedish sparkle and verve as Astrid’s children’s classic. It’s humorous, heart-breaking, and memorable. The characters were so brilliantly drawn that I couldn’t help casting friends and acquaintances in their parts as I listened to the audio. It’s a quirky book–refreshingly delightful and utterly poignant. I dare you not to love the grandmother character.

5 stars, no reservations. Perfect for readers who relish character-driven stories with a hint of mystery. Suitable for adults, but mature young readers might also enjoy it. (NB: It references smoking, drinking, some violence, etc.)


Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 8.56.39 pmThe Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

If ever there was a book-lover’s delight, this is it. How can you beat a story that centres around a floating bookstore–a literary apothecary, whose owner prescribes books to his customers to heal their hearts and repair their lives? Bookseller Jean Perdu has a gift: he “sees” people’s personal blind spots and downfalls and prescribes literary cures. The problem is he can’t fix himself. The book tells the story of his journey toward healing. There is something for almost everyone: book lover, writer, lover, unlucky-in-love, Francophile, foodie, pilgrim … it was so perfect, I bought multiple copies to give away. 5 stars, full recommendation. Read this heart-wrenching redemption story and weep. The book includes recipes AND a list of literary prescriptions. Mais OUI! Suitable for grown-ups with wanderlust.

(*BTW, if you love Books About Books, check out my GoodReads shelf for recommendations here.)

Captivating Covers of 2015

I have to mention these books because of their tempting covers. My favourite covers for 2015:

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 9.00.01 pmThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

A beautiful cover featuring purples and rose gold for a haunting tale. It has all my favourite elements of Gothic literature with a dash of magical realism. I wanted to love it, but books like The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Toni Morrison’s Beloved have ruined me forever for this type of story.

Nevertheless, kudos for the pretty cover art.

Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 9.03.40 pmUprooted by Naomi Novik

I wanted to love this book. Don’t get me wrong: The writing is as beautiful as the cover. It was amazing–dark, rich, and unique. But for me, it was too dark. I reached a point where I couldn’t continue.  Recommended for the stout-hearted and spiritually thick-skinned.

I love the cover’s medieval illuminated text throw-back.

Check out my Pinterest board, Captivating Covers, for pretty covers and interesting-looking reads all year long.

Over to You!

What were your favourite reads and most loved book covers for 2015? Do you agree with my selection? Please recommend your favourites in the comments!

Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain, Bonnybbx

Kidlit News: Harry Helps Grandpa Remember

Harry BEST

Brisbane author and resilience advocate, Karen Tyrrell, launches her latest title for children this week. Harry Helps Grandpa Remember is a colourful picture book that addresses the confusing and sad topic of memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

A Picture Book about Dementia

Harry and Grandpa love playing hide-and-seek together. Over time Grandpa becomes grumpy and forgetful, refusing to play games with Harry anymore. On Grandparent’s Day at Harry’s school, Grandpa becomes confused and lost. He couldn’t even remember Harry’s name. Then Harry discovers clever ways to boost Grandpa’s memory. How does Harry help Grandpa remember?

Endearingly told and full of hope, compassion and humour, ‘Harry’ provides a gentle introduction for children to the realities of Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

WINNER: RADF (Regional Arts Development Fund) Grant via Arts Queensland & Logan City Council

Read on to learn why I’m so excited to be a part of Harry’s blog tour.

Interview with Karen Tyrrell

Alison: This is your third book about children’s resilience. How did the writing of this one differ from the others?

Karen: My first picture book, Bailey Beats the Blah offers coping skills to lift the mood of children who are experiencing sad days and worry thoughts.

STOP the Bully (mid-grade) offers positive bully prevention skills in a humorous fast paced adventure.

Harry Helps Grandpa Remember reveals the special love between a little boy and his grandpa who has Alzheimer’s. Harry will stop at nothing to help his grandpa remember. Harry offers memory boosting and coping skills in a heart-warming story filled with humour and hope.

Alison: Harry is such a cutie. How did you create the character?

Karen: Harry is a composite character based on my observations on how my nephews and my husband Steve care for their granddad/ father who has Alzheimer’s. Harry’s character was then developed through critique from my writing group, WriteLinks, and from my beta readers. Finally my ex-Penguin editor, Penny Springthorpe suggested further fine tuning in developing a character that would pull your heart-strings.

Alison: I have no doubt that Harry is meeting a need in the community. What has the response been from professionals, such as librarians, counsellors, and teachers? 

Karen: School Librarians and teachers read the story with a tear in their eye, relaying their personal experiences with a loved one with memory loss. They are keen to order multiple copies for the school. They talk about how they will use Harry and the FREE literacy and craft activities to celebrate Grandparents day.

Alison: Our school library has your books, and I keep copies in my school counselling office because they are so kid-friendly. How have children responded to Harry?

Karen: Children love Harry as a read-aloud book, a story to springboard discussion about someone they know with memory loss.

The Blog Tour Continues!

24 June: Di Bates Buzz Words Review 

25 June: Robyn Opie Interview

25 June: Jackie Hosking Review

26 June: Charmaine Clancy Author Platform

29 June: Sally Odgers interview

 30 June: Jill Smith Review

30 June: June Perkins Interview

 1 July: Dimity Powell Review

Blog Tour Book Giveaway

Please leave a comment on any of the sites above for a chance to win a signed print copy OR 5 eCopies of Harry Helps Grandpa Remember. 6 Copies to be won in total. Six Winners announced on 3 July. Good luck!


Harry Helps Grandpa Remember

AUTHOR: Karen Tyrrell


ISBN: 9780987274083

FORMATS: eBook & Paperback

PUBLISHER: Digital Future Press PUB DATE: June 20th 2015

CATEGORY: Picture book – Educational

AUDIENCE: 4- 8 years

AU RRP: eBook: $3.99 Paperback: $15.95 eBook available on Amazon & online stores.

Book Review: Greenglass House

Greenglass House by Kate Milford,  Clarion Books 2014 ISBN: 0544052706

Greenglass House by Kate Milford,
Clarion Books 2014
ISBN: 0544052706

Kate Milford’s Greenglass House is a brilliant middle grade mystery that young readers will love. Reviewers and kidlit critics (and I humbly) concur: This is a book that ticks all the boxes.


Seriously. Try and beat this combination: a once-grand hotel whose clientele was and still is mostly smugglers and other nefarious types, a snow-muffled, wintry day with more arctic weather beating a path straight for them, a cliff that overlooks a winding waterway with access via a cable trolley from the bottom of the slope. Curl up with this book, and you’ll swear you hear the tick of old radiators, the crackle of the fire, and the distant howl of winds.

Loveable Characters

√ Milo Pine is quirky and clever, though prone to panic attacks. His new friend Meddy is gutsy and fun. An odd band of guests turn up despite the inclement weather, and it’s no coincidence…

A Cool Old House

 Truly old-world with fireplaces, wood panelling, grand staircases with creaky steps, and stained glass feature windows. Greenglass House is eclectic and full of mysterious potential.

A Strange Map

 This one turns up in the snow when the visitors arrive and–as most mysterious maps do–throws the story into gear.

Attic Explorationsattictreasures

In my opinion, it’s not a good kids’ mystery unless there’s an attic or other such liminal space. This attic happens to hold generations of treasures–including costumes, props, and (of course) clues!

A Puzzle to Solve

√ Well, it wouldn’t be a mystery without a problem, missing bits, clues, and suspicious behaviour, would it? Greenglass House has the necessary whodunit elements by the bucket load. Good thing our hyper-vigilant hero is observant and smart.

Powerful Themes

Adopted from China, Milo experiences the understandable but confusing daydreams about his biological parents. His new friend Meddy’s roleplaying game offers him a handy way of working through identity questions while facing his fears and overcoming his anxiety.

Gorgeous Language

Kate Milford’s writing includes pretty words like raconteur, blandishment, and puissance. Take a moment to let those luscious morsels tingle on your tongue. I love that she doesn’t shy away from “big words” just because her readers are young. No–she shares with them her esteem for language and joy for storytelling. More about Kate can be found on her website.


While the mystery unfolds and tension mounts around Milo, a heart-warming transformation happens inside him. He discovers and begins to appreciate his strengths and talents.

A Fabulous Cover


Cover Spread

√√ Confession Time: I bought Greenglass House because I *had*to*have*that*beautiful*book. Yes, the story itself ticked all my boxes–creaky old house, attic adventures, quirky characters–but that beautiful cover completely ensorcelled me. I pretty much threw my money at the bookseller.

The lettering is divine; the snow and wind, the eerie shades of green, the wacky purple endpapers! It’s a sublime product, and it’s the work of artist Jaime Zollars. Check out her artwork on her website and the story of the Greenglass House cover here.

Literary Acclaim

2014 National Book Award – Young People’s Literature category – Longlisted

2015 Edgars  – Best Juvenile Mystery category – Nominee

UPDATE HERE! Click ME! Click Me!

Every spring the Mystery Writers of America present the  Edgars, the big boy of prizes in the mystery genre. The past winners’ list includes names like Ellery Queen, John Le Carré, Ken Follett, Ruth Rendell, and P D James. The 2015 winners will be announced on the 29th of April. Good luck to Kate Milford for her wonderful book.

Creative Commons Image Credit: Lanhydrock Attic by Lee Morgan