One year after the events of Winterhouse (2018), 12-year-old Elizabeth Somers returns to the grand Winterhouse Hotel for Christmas break.
Elizabeth’s pleasure at being back with her grandfather Norbridge and her young, anagram-loving inventor friend, Freddy, and at being included in the family tree, is increased by learning that Winterhouse will now be her permanent home. The delights of living in a place with its own candy factory, a lake for skating and mountains for skiing, a large library, and movies playing nightly are appealingly detailed. But something is not quite right—two sets of unpleasant guests are behaving strangely, and Elizabeth’s great-aunt, the sorceress Gracella, might not be entirely dead. The Winterhouse seal, an intriguing riddle set into the floor, suggests hidden doorways and tests Elizabeth’s and Freddy’s puzzle-solving skills. The book adheres to a white default: None of the characters are identified by race in the text, though Freddy and librarian Leona are illustrated with dark skin; gloomy Mr. Rajput, one of the hotel’s frequent guests, is likely of South Asian descent. Elizabeth is an appealing heroine, fond of reading and puzzles, confident in her intelligence, but she grapples with her temper and emotions and worries about fitting in at school or among people in general. Though Elizabeth counts Leona among her friends, the cast is male, with the only other primary female characters fairly unlikable.
An engaging blend of sleuthing, puzzle-solving, and magic. (Mystery. 9-13)