An enchanting urban fantasy middle-grade debut―the first book in a trilogy―set in a magical hotel full of secrets.
Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms―most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse. As fate would have it, Elizabeth is the only person who can break the hotel’s curse and solve the mystery. But will it be at the cost of losing the people she has come to care for, and even Winterhouse itself?
Mystery, adventure, and beautiful writing combine in this exciting debut richly set in a hotel full of secrets.
I'm currently in a reading slump and not a single book is looking appealing to me right now. However, I just couldn't say 'no' to this adorable cover! The fact that there a beautiful illustrations throughout made it even better. The entire layout of this book definitely deserves its own honourable mention - it fits the story so well and makes it even more heartwarming. And the best thing was (of course), that the story (despite my reading slump) was able to hold my attention and make me feel all cozy. It was definitely the perfect book to read during this cold wintertime!
' Winterhouse' is classified as a Childrens/Middle Grade book - a genre I don't read very often, because I fear that the writing or the individual plot points will be too childish for my liking. However, it didn't take long to convince me that this is a book that can easily be read and enjoyed by all ages! The suspense was there from (literally) page one and lasted till the very end. The words that were used were appropriate for children, but weren't dumbed down either. The characters are smart and don't shy away from showing it (without boasting about it or feeling superior).
Talking about the characters - I can't get how cute they were!! Especially the friendship between the main character Elizabeth and her new-found friend Freddy warmed my heart, they were just beyond precious. They treat each other with so much respect and acceptance; the thought that kids might read this book and learn how to treat their fellow peers makes me so happy.
Puzzles and riddles play a big part of the story, which I found to be unique and which I totally loved. It made the plot even more fun and exciting. I felt like I was solving everything together with the characters and it made me feel even closer to them. It animated me so much that I suddenly felt the need to buy a bunch of crosswords and jigsaws!
I just cannot get it into my head that this is the debut novel of the author!! Everything was just so wonderful and perfect...I'm telling you: Ben Guterson will go on to write many, many more fantastic books! It's kind of funny how I was worried about reading this in the beginning, because it ended up being one of my favourite books I've read in the entire year.
I only have to criticise one tiny little thing: I would have liked a bit more insight into Elizabeth's life before she visits Winterhouse, to get a better understanding into her living situation with her aunt and uncle. The same goes for Freddy's relationship with his parents. However, taking into consideration that this is only the first part of a trilogy, it isn't that big of a deal. I'm sure we will learn more about these things in the following books. And oh boy, I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am for the sequel to come out...
Elizabeth Somers is an orphan being raised by her miserable Aunt and Uncle, in the equally miserable town of Drere. She doesn't sleep in a cupboard under the stairs, but she might as well.
Just when Elizabeth thinks things can't get any worse, her Aunt and Uncle tell her they are shipping her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel for three weeks over Christmas Holiday.
They are sending her on her own, while they go on a much more glamorous holiday abroad.
Thus, Elizabeth embarks on the solo holiday that will change her life forever.
Strange events begin occurring before she even sets foot on the Winterhouse property. Aboard the train, enroute to the hotel, you can tell something is amiss.
Winterhouse is a wonderful blend of mystery, intrigue, fun and adventure. I enjoyed following Elizabeth and her friend, Freddy, who is also spending his holiday sans parental figures, as they explore the hotel and the many mysteries held within its walls.
Elizabeth and Freddy, both major word nerds, develop a very strong friendship rather quickly.
Norbridge Falls, the eccentric owner of the hotel, was also a fun character; spilling forth droplets of wisdom onto the children with every turn. ((e.g. "The moment we start feeling better than other people because of our capabilities is the moment we start to lose ourselves.")
This story also has a very malevolent set of baddies, the Hiemses, a husband and wife pair that seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times and in the most inconvenient places.
For the nerds, ((me)) there's a library with a very special book hidden on its shelves. The Book.
It is when Elizabeth comes across this book that things start to really heat up for her.
There is so much here to enjoy: messages hidden in paintings, skeleton keys, codes, orbs of red light, coffins hidden in back bedrooms, long-held family secrets and so much more.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Henry Holt and Co., for providing me with a copy of this delightful book to read and review. As always, I truly appreciate the opportunity!
“She was good at all sorts of puzzles—word searches, hangman, acrostics, cryptograms, any puzzle with words.”
Although I am not part of Winterhouse's target audience, I do enjoy reading the occasional book aimed towards younger readers as they can be quite uplifting and entertaining reads. In fact, I picked Winterhouse up hoping for a light and amusing read...which it was...occasionally, and the artwork was very cute, I'm not sure Winterhouse lives up to its summary. It has plenty of clever puzzles and word-plays but it lacked...oomph.
Winterhouse has an intriguing yet familiar premise. Elizabeth Somers is an orphan, who is raised by uncaring relatives and who doesn't have any friends. She is a precocious bibliophile (she does bring up some childhood favourites such as Inkheart, The Golden Compass, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) who is a fan of puzzles, especially anagrams—and of using long or clever words (not always successfully). One Christmas her aunt and uncle decide to go on a holiday without her and so without any explanation or apology they send to the Winterhouse hotel. Once there Elizabeth meets Winterhouse's eccentric owner, the kind librarian, a boy who happens to be as bespectacled and puzzle-lover as she is, and a sinister couple. While there was a lot to like, once at Winterhouse Elizabeth's behaviour becomes increasingly annoying. She is bossy towards her new friend and repeatedly jumps to silly conclusions. The mystery of Winterhouse is weakened by the incredibly cartoonish villains and by a general lack of atmosphere. The rather obvious connection between two characters did not in fact come across as a surprise. The setting, which had so much potential, never came to life. It remained rather nondescript.
All in all this was an okay MG read. The simple writing style and story reminded me of The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood. At times it seemed that the narrative was trying to be as quirky and clever as a book by Lemony Snicket but it doesn't quite succeed.
Oh my gosh I freaking LOVED this book! The setting of Winterhouse was absolutely magical, I loved the writing, the characters, the mystery, everything. Who says middle grade books aren’t for adults? First book of 2018 and it’s gonna be hard to top!
Finalmente li o primeiro livro dessa trilogia. Comecei no final do ano passado, mas acabei parando por algum motivo que não lembro (provavelmente correria) e retornei agora encaixando ele como leitura do meu desafio da Maratona Literária de Inverno 2020/BKTBTN (ler um livro que se passa no inverno e/ou com clima natalino).
Pra mim, esse livro tem uma vibe de Harry Potter encontra Matilda então já ganhou meu coração (apesar de não conseguir separar a obra do autor, vamos tentar esquecer só por alguns minutos quem escreveu HP).
Essa é uma série que com certeza teria se tornado uma queridinha/favorita se eu tivesse lido quando era mais nova. Ficaria me imaginando vivendo naquelas páginas e tentando resolver os mistérios. Mas é óbvio que não é porque que estou longe da idade do público alvo que isso não aconteceu. Eu amei essa leitura do começo ao fim. Enquanto lia, imaginava minha "versão juvenil" lendo aquela história e ao mesmo tempo imaginava minha versão adulta morando ou visitando um lugar como Winterhouse.
Como disse, é um livro voltado pro público juvenil, mas apesar de ser uma leitura leve, ela aborda algumas questões muito importantes como amizade e confiança.
Ah e agora tô com vontade de ficar fazendo anagramas como Elizabeth e Fred.
When at the beginning of Ben Guterson's Winterhouse fantasy, eleven year old Elizabeth Somers is sent by her curmudgeonly and unloving aunt and uncle to spend the Christmas season at the sprawling Winterhouse Hotel, she does not at first know what to make of this. But Elizabeth soon realises that Winterhouse is a fun and magical place (with everything her heart could desire, including a massive library, her first real friend and in Norbridge Falls a hotel proprietor who is both personable and kind). But alongside of all the fun and games, the puzzles and culinary delights of Winterhouse, Elizabeth (and her new friend Freddy) soon discover that not only does the hotel harbour some major secrets (especially concerning the Falls family), but that said secrets are also fraught with danger (a threat that could even perhaps destroy both Winterhouse and the Falls family, and that somehow Elizabeth is directly linked to all of this).
Now Winterhouse and its sequels have been on my to-read list, have been on my reading radar for quite some time, and I am very glad that I have now finally read the first novel (and I am certainly and without a doubt also planning on reading the entire series). And yes, as a middle grade level fantasy story in and of itself, I have most definitely and indeed found Winterhouse an engaging reading romp, with just enough but not too much mystery and darkness, and Elizabeth Somers a both delightful and personally relatable main protagonist. I really love love love Elizabeth's bookishness, her mania for puzzles and except for the fact that she repeatedly fibs about having returned that mysterious book to the hotel library, I generally also consider Elizabeth Somers sweet tempered and generally adequately well behaved, full of intelligence and also a sense for what is right (and with that library book, I guess it does kind of appear as though Elizabeth is being externally controlled and manipulated to a large extent).
However, as much as Winterhouse has appealed to me (and also to my inner child) and albeit that I have both massively enjoyed and appreciated (if not even loved) the hotel with almost every comfort, every wish and desire being granted setting, I do have to admit that I wish author Ben Guterson's sense of narrational place were just a bit stronger and more solid. For while he does give a number of specific hints that Winterhouse is located in the USA (mentions of the Fourth of July, dollars etc.), I for one when I first started reading Winterhouse rather felt that I was reading a story set in the United Kingdom and not in America (or perhaps more to the point in Scotland, as Elizabeth's bus journey to Winterhouse very much does remind me of the long train tip to Hogwarts that students must take in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series). Furthermore, I also tend to find the villains of Winterhouse rather a bit too one-sided and flat (and would definitely much prefer both the Hiemses' and Gracella Winters to be a trifle less overtly stereotypical horrid and evil), not to mention that yes, I also relatively quickly figured out how Norbridge Falls and Elizabeth Somers are connected (and thus, the major reveal at the end of Winterhouse as to their relationship was and remains both not surprising and as such also a bit of a let-down).
Such a fun wintery middle grade. I loved that our main character was such a smart girl. She loved reading and was very good at word ladders and anagrams. It was set during Christmas holidays, but wasn't overly Christmassy in tone. It got a bit dark at times and was a classic good vs evil story. Loved the focus on puzzles - from literal puzzles, to clues that need to be puzzled out to the word puzzles. Fun story!
If my recent reads do not already show it, let me explain that I have been on a hunt for a new middle-grade book that gives me the wonderful vibes of one of my very, very favorite books--The Mysterious Benedict Society. It is a skyscraper size of an order, I am all too aware of, but if I find one that gives just half of that whimsical feeling, I'll be thrilled. Winterhouse started off a strong contender, but by the end I would have to say it failed that challenge. It still had it's unique elements, so let's chat about those, shall we?
Elizabeth is a young bibliophile, loves puzzles, and has a broad vocabulary. I found her to be a dear and rooted for her all through-out this story. She gets sent to Winterhouse and--as you may expect--mysterious things are happening. I'll let you read the back-cover for more info, so let's get started on the content.
Content: This book was very clean in nearly every regard. One thing to note is the magic elements of this plot. * Elizabeth gets what is called "the feeling" before something is going to happen (most times it's just a book dropping to the ground or a cup falling into the kitchen sink). During the book, Elizabeth tries to gather that feeling into moving an item (telekinesis, perhaps?) and succeeds. * At Winterhouse, the Falls family all have or had "powers" or a "awareness of what's inside of [them]". It is also called "genuine magic". Norbridge uses his for putting on magic shows for the guests. The magic this family is shown to have isn't expounded upon greatly in this book in the sense of where did it come from? why do they have it? what happens if you use it for bad? etc., so it doesn't feel very magic heavy in this way. * However, one of the members of the Falls family became highly interested in spells and spirits and set out to become a witch. To keep from giving away spoilers, there is a scene later in the book that talks about someone's spirit being separated from their body and others having to do certain things where the spirit and body are one again. I'll admit that it and a later scene did come across a little creepy (to which our young characters also said was creepy), but at the same time I almost would put it in the same category at Mother Gothel from Tangled...or maybe just a tad higher if we compare her final scene to the final scene of this character.
* The book focuses quite heavily about Good vs Evil and choosing what side you will be on. Regardless, I would say that it probably would be one to avoid for those who dislike any magic at all. Based on the back-cover of the next book, I don’t believe I’ll continue this series because of more magic content and the plot of people trying to bring a spirit back to life.
Not blaming the book at all, I just went into it knowing that I typically do not like fantasy or magical things in my books and I just cannot get into this one. I have no doubt that a great majority of kiddos in this age group would probably love this. It's got an adorable cover, and the synopsis sounds very intriguing. Maybe I'll come back to it later in the month.
***Re-Read DECEMBER 2020!!! - Loved it just as much as the first time. _______________________
I love when a book has be guessing!! I've read a lot of them and can usually see what's coming and with this one, I was pleasantly surprised. The first 100 pages of this book had me on the edge of my seat wondering what the heck was going on and I really enjoyed that about this story. Reading this I couldn't help but be reminded of my favorite author John Bellairs. The way John told his stories with so much mystery and darkness, yet they had this cozy feeling at the same time. This book felt a lot like a Bellairs book and I really appreciated that. There's mystery, magic, darkness, puzzles, and so much more in this story and I'd really recommend it. The only issue I had, which tends to be an issue I have all the time with big books is that it went on 100 pages too long, but that doesn't take away from my enjoyment of it. I've started the second book already and I have a feeling I will enjoying it and hopefully a lot more than the first! - Richard
Mystery and magic, this one was enchanting. You'll find yourself wishing you could stay at Winterhouse. When Elizabeth is whisked away from her aunt and uncle to Winterhouse for 3 weeks during the winter holiday, she discovers new friends (who shares her fondness for anagrams and words ladders), activities galore and a mystery to solve. Fans of books like The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea about magical places with a mystery or books with puzzles to solve like Book Scavenger will want to give this one a try.
Ein wirklich schönes Buch, empfohlen ab 11 Jahre aber durchaus auch für Erwachsene geeignet. Voller Rätsel, Magie und Spannung. Wunderschöne Aufmachung mit einem Schutzumschlag mit Fenstern, mit vielen Zeichnungen und Wortleitern zu Beginn der Kapitel. Ich habe gelernt, Wortleitern sind Buchstabenspiele, erfunden von Lewis Carrol, schon alleine für diese Information habe ich dieses Buch gefeiert. Das Buch spielt im Winterhaus, einem Hotel inmitten einer verschneiten Winterlandschaft, gelegen an einem See. Im Buchumschlag befindet sich auch ein Bild der Lage des Hotels, so dass man auch gedanklich direkt im Winterhaus ankommen kann. Das Buch spielt um Weihnachten und Silvester, passt also super jetzt noch in meine Lesezeit. Es handelt sich um eine Trilogie, auch wenn man Winterhaus durchaus als Einzelband lesen kann, es gibt am Ende keinen Cliffhanger. Ich werde Teil 2 dieses Jahr Weihnachten lesen, wenn ich es aushalten, so lange noch zu warten. Elizabeth und Freddy sind tolle Protagonisten, mit denen auch ich als Erwachsene noch richtig mitfiebern konnte. Vielleicht ist einiges vorhersehbar, vielleicht ist nicht alles bis in die Tiefe ausgearbeitet, aber es handelt sich hier um einen Jugendroman, deshalb kann ich das nicht wirklich kritisieren
Für alle junggebliebenen Leser und für solche, die Rätsel und unheimliche Bücher schon als Kinder mochten
Je suis tombée sur le livre Winterhouse Hotel, alors que j'étais à la recherche des plus belles lectures pour le temps des fêtes! Et je peux vous confirmer que ce livre correspond exactement à ce que je recherchais 🤩 De la neige, de la magie (pas juste de Noël) et une histoire qui a su me faire oublier ma semaine de fouuuuu. Dès les premières pages de Winterhouse hotel j'ai été transportée dans un univers magique et chaleureux. J'ai rêvé me retrouver à la place d'Élisabeth lorsqu'elle découvrait la spectaculaire bibliothèque de Winterhouse, lorsqu'elle faisait de la luge en compagnie de Freddy et surtout, lorsqu'elle a pu observé la beauté du reflet des étoiles sur le lac Luna. 🤩 De belles amitiés, des énigmes, de la magie et bien d'autres secrets vous attendent à Winterhouse hotel 🥰
I think my opinion about this book is in the minority and I don't want to convince anyone not to read this book. I listened to this on audio and it was just not able to hold my attention. That being said, my mind tends to wander when I listen to audio books in general.
This book has a delightfully illustrated cover and this, combined with the premise, made me hope it would be an adventure along the lines of Greenglass House or Small Spaces. I was hoping for a very atmospheric setting, but based on the descriptions, or lacky thereof, the the setting seemed nonexistent.
I enjoyed the protagonist, Elizabeth Somers’s, character description, her love of books and wordplay but I didn't find the story itself one worth following.
The villains in the book were stereotypical bad guys, hamhanded in their evilness. This book seemed to have the ambition to attempt to be like other popular middle grade series but it fell flat for me. I won't remember this book in another week.
The storyline is cute- definitely meant to be read in the winter months, but it is predictable and a little boring. It sort of screamed Harry Potter fan-fic to me in the way that the main character has a horrible home life with an aunt and uncle who adopted her when her parents died, she finds magic in a mysterious place, she meets a quirky friend or two, she has to watch out for maniacal adults with unknown motives, she meets an old man who leads the hotel and makes snow fall from the ceiling on Christmas and she learns that she'd descended from greatness. As I write this, I realize that it's basically just B-rate Harry Potter without owls.
I would recommend this book to anyone with some time on their hands and an interest in puzzles.
>>Die Hauptsache ist- und das solltest du nie vergessen-, dass alle wichtigen Dinge im Leben einen Schlüssel haben. Schlüssel sind der Schlüssel für Geheimnisse eines Lebens, an dem du dich erfreuen kannst. ...<<
"Winterhaus" von Ben Guterson erzählt die Geschichte der jungen Elizabeth, die als Waise bei ihrer Tante und ihrem Onkel wohnt und sich dort nicht sehr wohl fühlt. Sie vermisst nicht nur ihre Eltern, sondern sehnt sich im Grunde nach dem Wissen um ihre Wurzeln und nach Zuwendung. ...Und dann sind da noch diese unerklärlichen Momente, in denen Elizabeth so ein besonderes Gefühl hat, das sie selbst kaum erklären kann... Und genau in diesem Momenten, geschieht meist etwas und das verunsichert sie nur noch mehr. Wie das Schicksal es will, verbringt sie unerwartet die Winterferien im prächtigen Hotel Winterhaus und das stellt ihr Leben gehörig auf den Kopf! Mehr möchte ich von der Geschichte nicht vorweg nehmen, denn diese wird mehr zu einem großen Rätsel, einem großen magischen, geheimnisvollen und manchmal gefährlichen Abendteuer, das mich gleich zu beginn schon sehr abgeholt hat. Elizabeth war für mich ein junges Mädchen, das ich schnell ins Herz geschlossen habe und obwohl sie sich nicht immer an die Regeln hält, und den Ärger manches Mal ein bisschen anzuziehen scheint, habe ich unheimlich gerne literarisch Zeit mit ihr in Winterhaus verbracht und vor allem mit gerätselt😉 Das Hotel an sich wird sehr detailliert und eindrucksvoll beschreiben und in Kombination mit der Winterlandschaft drum herum und all den Gästen des Hotels kam für mich eine tolle Stimmung und Atmosphäre auf, die einfach auch perfekt in die Winterzeit passte! Eine #leseempfehlung würde ich hier für junge Leser ab 12+ aussprechen und bin schon sehr neugierig auf die folgenden Bände der Reihe und freue mich schon sehr, Elizabeth wieder zu treffen🤗💖📖
This was a fun middle-grade mystery with nerdy quirks. I loved how word ladders and other linguistic puzzles were integrated into the plot; it was a unique element which I don’t think I’ve seen before. I can imagine this would be a really entertaining and engaging book for children.
The protagonist was slightly irritating at times, but this didn’t majorly detract from my enjoyment. Her behaviour had a reason provided and, since she’s young, it’s understandable why rash decisions might be made.
I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a wintery mystery with fun puzzle elements!
A big thank you to NetGalley and McMillan for an ARC of this book. I found many things I liked about the book: the word ladders and other word games, the library at Winterhouse, Elizabeth's passion for books, the concept of Winterhouse and the unexpected goodfortune it was to visit for a poor orphan girl in a home without love. What I did not love was the paranormal aspect. Gracella was a way too creepy and took away from the holiday celebrations going on in the book. Although that part of the plot does allow us to see Elizabeth having to make choices between good and evil and modelling that struggle for middle grade kids. Definitely interested in reading the rest of the trilogy. Fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society may find this series of interest.
-ENGLISH BELOW- Een boek waar een immense bibliotheek in voor komt, wat wil je als boekenliefhebber nog meer? Nou ook graag een spannend verhaal, een beetje humor, leuke hoofdpersonen die je graag in het echt zou ontmoeten en een sprankje magie. En als je dat nou combineert met een bijzondere kaft, dan is het moeilijk om te laten liggen.
Fijn boek voor kinderen. Wel echt voor kinderen van een jaar of 10, want vooral het laatste deel is erg spannend. Het verhaal gaat over Elizabeth, die bij haar rare oom en tante woont. Op een dag komt ze thuis, en ontdekt dat haar oom en tante zonder haar op vakantie zijn. Zij krijgt een kaartje oom met de bis naar Winterhuis Hotel te reizen. Elizabeth verwacht een verschrikkelijke plek. Maar ze komt op een schilderachtige plek, vol vriendelijke mensen. Tenminste, op 2 vreemde gasten na. En die zorgen voor een heel spannend avontuur.
Het boek is een soort mix tussen Tonke Dragt en Roald Dahl en voor kinderen die van avontuur houden met een sprankje magie. Het laatste deel, met meer nadruk op de magie, is iets minder sterk dan het eerste deel. Het eerste deel gaat erg over vriendschap en de zoektocht naar mensen die zijn zoals jij bent. Het ontstaan van de vriendschap tussen Elizabeth en Freddie is heel knap opgeschreven.
Wat mij betreft bovengemiddeld leuk, ook voor ouders.
A book with an immense library, what more do you want as a book lover? Well, maybe also an exciting story, a little humor, likeable main characters who you would like to meet in real life, and all with a spark of magic. And if you combine that with a special cover, then it's hard to pass up.
Great book for children. Really for children around 10 years old, because especially the last part is a bit scary. The story is about Elizabeth, who lives with her weird uncle and aunt. One day she comes home and discovers that her uncle and aunt are on vacation without her. She has to spend her Christmas holiday in a far away hotel. She receives a ticket to travel with the bus to Winterhuis Hotel. Elizabeth expects something terribl. But she arrives in a picturesque place, full of friendly people. At least, except for 2 strange guests. And they make for a very exciting adventure.
The book is a kind of mix between Tonke Dragt and Roald Dahl and for children who love adventure with a spark of magic. The last part, with more emphasis on magic, is slightly less strong than the first part. The first part is very about friendship and the search for people who are the way you are. The birth of the friendship between Elizabeth and Freddie is very cleverly written down.
As far as I am concerned, it is above average and a good read for both children and parents.