Winter in the inn above the River Skidwrack finds Milo and his parents hosting several guests who are not what they seem—and a mystery to be solved.
Just before Christmas Greenglass House is filled with unexpected visitors. A young man who claims to be an art student, studying the famous stained-glass windows of the house, is the sole guest until Georgie and Clem, young women who met the year before at Greenglass House, arrive. They’ve recently pulled off a caper, recovering a stash belonging to legendary smuggler Violet Cross. They hoped to find Cross’ derrotero, an incalculably valuable nautical map of the impossible, changing River Skidwrack. And then a troupe of midwinter revelers arrives in a kind of Morris-dancing tradition, singing carols and traveling with the horned skull of a hobby horse and a chimney sweep. Milo and his parents invite the carolers in, but a ceremonial chimney cleaning results in an overnight stay—and the game is afoot. Milford’s clever, complex plot is full of humor, tantalizing clues, and stories within the story. Adopted Milo, who has become conscious of the ways the world assumes things about him and his Chinese heritage, takes on a new hero persona that offers him confidence and insight into his emotions and strengths.
A brainy, satisfying assemblage of puzzles with an immensely likable protagonist. (Mystery/fantasy. 10-14)