Winterborne Home for Mayhem and Mystery

HMH. Mar. 2021. 352p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780358004400. POP.
Gr 4-8–Sometimes when wishes come true, they completely miss the mark. April’s life at Winterborne House has flip-flopped from a well-oiled machine with a schedule of homeschool classes, planned meals, and complete organization into wild, chaotic days with little supervision. With Smithers, the household charge, and Ms. Nelson, the children’s caretaker, away, the orphans are left with the recluse Gabriel—then he mysteriously vanishes, and the chaos turns to real danger. April and her orphan squad quickly work to connect clues, yet new characters and peril abound. April’s dreams seemingly come true when she comes face-to-face with her biological mother and father, yet both are manipulative and potentially perilous. In the end, she must determine whom to trust, which will change her life’s path. Carter’s novel continuously opens new doors, creating not just twists but a snarled maze of intrigue. This second installment is in keeping with the first book, yet serious danger and deep plot jumps establish a more complex and mature tone. Tween sleuths’ minds will race as Carter masterfully elongates the rising plot with action and explosive new information. The pacing fluctuates smoothly between swift drama and April’s inner monologue. April’s mindset is authentic and engaging, which will resonate with young readers. A complex female protagonist, April displays independence and moxie yet questions herself and her value. April is white, while her cast of quirky characters and friends are described as having various skin tones.
VERDICT Highly recommended as a twisting tween thriller, filled with budding friendships and a journey to self-discovery.

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