For as long as the Vickery twins can remember, Lee and his mother have served Memory, while Felix and his father assist Death. This is the Agreement. But one Halloween, Gretchen Whipple smashes her way into their lives. Her bargain is simple: If the twins help her solve the murder of local girl Essie Hasting, she'll help them break the Agreement. The more the three investigate, however, the more they realize that something's gone terribly wrong in their town. Death is on the loose, and if history repeats itself, Essie's might not be the last murder in Poplar Wood. Simultaneously heartwarming and delightfully spooky, The House in Poplar Wood is a story about a boy's desire to be free, a girl's desire to make a difference, and a family's desire to be together again.
K. E. Ormsbee hails from the Bluegrass State and lives in Austin, Texas. Halloween is her favorite day of the year, and she believes you're never too old to dress up. She is also the author of The Water and the Wild and The Doorway and the Deep.
The House in Poplar Wood 4 out of 5based on
28 days ago
I won a copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.
In this world, Death, Memory and Passion are “living” beings, called Shades, and each town has their own trio, unbeknownst to most folk. The Vickery adults serve Death and Memory as apprentices and their sons are being trained to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Felix and his father service Death – Felix’s father is the local doctor, creating various tinctures, ointments and cure-alls to help those whose time hasn’t come yet, and watching over those lives Death extinguishes. Lee and his mother serve Memory – I’m not actually 100% sure how Lee’s mother is seen to the community. Magic isn’t widely known or believed, yet his mother is able to remove memories (both bad and good) from people’s minds and hold on to them.
I enjoyed the characters and the plot was unique. I did wonder why Death, Memory and Passion were picked as the only three Shades to exist, but I can imagine the book would be pretty lengthy if more Shades were involved. You could definitely make an argument for those three things having a large part in everyone’s lives. I liked how each town has its own crew of Shades – they can have different personalities and ways of doing their job. It’s remarked that the Death in Chattanooga has his apprentice hand out chocolates to sweeten the journey to the afterlife.
This was a solid read with compelling characters, Felix being the most engaging given the solemnity of his “job.” The end wrapped up a little quickly, but I’m not too bothered by it. If there was a sequel (I could see it going either way), I would certainly pick it up. It wasn’t as moving as I’d like, though there are some decently emotional scenes.
I recommend this if you like: Dark middle-grade; Family drama; Magical beings hidden in plain sight; Beautifully designed books
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