Pub Date 14 May 2024
"Sometimes family is the hardest mystery to solve..."
Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Children's Fiction | Middle Grade | Sci Fi & Fantasy
From the Publisher:
"Get ready to solve the mystery at the heart of this captivating new middle grade adventure about family—and a house with a mind of its own—from the award-winning author of Game of Fox & Squirrels and Every Bird a Prince, Jenn Reese. Twelve-year-old Perigee has never met a problem they couldn’t solve. So when their Dad’s spirits need raising, Perigee formulates the Plan: a road trip to Dad’s childhood home to reunite him with his estranged mother. There's something in it for Perigee, too, as they will finally get to visit “Eklund’s Puzzle House,” the mysterious bed & breakfast their grandparents built but never opened. They arrive ahead of a massive storm and the House immediately puts Perigee’s logical, science-loving mind to the test. Corridors shift. Strange paintings lurk in the shadows. Encoded messages abound. Despite Perigee’s best efforts, neither the House nor Grandma will give up their secrets. And worse, prickly Grandma has outlawed games and riddles of any kind. Even the greatest of plans can crumble, and as new arguments fill the air, the House becomes truly dangerous. Deadly puzzles pop up at every turn, knives spin in the hallways, and staircases disappear. The answer lies at the heart of the House, but in order to find it, Perigee and their new friend Lily will need to solve a long-lost, decades-old riddle… if the House itself doesn’t stop them first."
I was drawn to this book because of the cover and I can't resist a puzzle/trial/unique house story. The concept was awesome then it became more: more emotional, and deeper.
What starts as a plan to fix their (Perigee is nonbinary) dad's relationship with their grandmother turns into a survival game.
I loved the subtle layers of issues to be resolved. The relationship of mother and son and also son and father. The realization that one needs help and when to accept it. Their way of grief grieving and coping with loss. New friendships and changes. Dealing with a lack of friends. Solving clues and puzzles... (Note: In the beginning of the game I wished the author had made these puzzles more interactive with us readers, then I understood that it was necessary to keep the reader a little distant to make the survival and the fixing of the plan more personal, tense, and emotional. These are hardships Perigee has to overcome. It's his character growth and journey).
The story gives us many subtle valuable lessons as well, many times we already have the answers to an issue and we know what to do in a specific event but if the context changes we seem to be lost. Many times the character Lily applies her knowledge of hiking to new situations and helps to keep calm.
I love the rhythm of a book that ends on a higher note than the usual 80% climax making the ending stronger.
Having access to the House's POV consciousness and chapters enriched the narrative.
Thank you Netgalley and publisher for this e-Arc.