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The House in Poplar Wood

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  740 ratings  ·  181 reviews
For as long as the Vickery twins can remember, they’ve only ever been able to leave the house together once a year, on Halloween. The rest of the year, Lee and his mother serve 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 mu
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Chronicle Books
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  740 ratings  ·  181 reviews

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Sep 11, 2018 marked it as to-read
I can't wait to read this one for Halloween.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I listened to this on audio. I was a little hesitant at first, because I just wasn't feeling the narrator. And though I did eventually grow to like him, some pet peeves did remain throughout. But story-wise, this book encapsulates so much of what I love about middle grade.
Full review to come.
I was lucky to win an arc of The House in Poplar Wood from K.E. Ormsbee on instagram! Opinions are my own, unbiased and genuine.

The title of this story piqued my interest right away and I added it to my ‘want to read’ list early on. I enjoyed Ormsbee’s The Water and the Wild (I may refer to it as TW&TW in this review to save time) and that made me want to read this middle grade book of hers too. The House in Poplar Wood is a lot different than TW&TW, yet still has masterful storytelling. Fully s
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Twins Lee and Felix Vickery live in a secluded house in Poplar Wood with their parents. The hitch? Their dad Vince is the apprentice to Death and their mom Judith is the apprentice to Memory.
Death and Memory despise each other and have had a feud going for years so when Passion brought Vince and Judith together thirteen years ago, an Agreement was made,
(All those capital letters aren't a mistake: the shades Death, Memory, and Passion are almost human in this tale and the Agreement is a binding
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I think this would be a great read aloud in a middle school classroom in October. It's just the right amount of spooky. The characters were likeable and the plot moved quickly enough. I think the depictions of the Shades were simplistic, but not poorly so. When I realized that the main characters were 12 year olds and their main goal was to outsmart Death, I prepared myself for the worst. However, the way it was handled exceeded my expectations. I also thought it was sweet that the twins wanted ...more
Michelle Glatt
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, mystery
I enjoyed this unique story. The world building was strong--especially for a world that is quite similar to ours. The mystery aspects were engaging, and the characters were easy to root for.
Stephanie ((Strazzybooks))
I liked what this book was going for, and its vibe, but it didn’t really work for me.

The House in Poplar Wood tells the story of twin brothers, Felix and Lee, who are apprentices for two of ‘The Shades’, Death and Memory.
They have unique experiences under their different Shades, but both feel trapped in their apprenticeship, especially as it separates their family.
Felix cannot see his mother, Lee cannot see his father, and their parents must stay apart. Felix and Lee want to escape this li
Mortisha Cassavetes
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
Oh I really loved this book! The story is unique and very creative. It is a perfect read around the Halloween season. The story follows the Vickery twins, Lee and Felix. Lee and his Mother serve Memory, working for her to store memories of others. Felix and his Dad serve Death, working for him as he takes lives. Due to the Agreement, Lee can never see his Dad and Felix can never see his Mom. One day Gretchen Whipple comes into their lives and wants the twins to help her solve the mystery of who ...more
The Flooze

Well. That book was (mostly) dark as hell.

In the tradition of Grimms' Fairy Tales, The House in Poplar Wood is not a cheery story. The three 13-year-olds at the center have each endured their own personal difficulties. They're bound up in a world of magic that's bestowed upon them an early knowledge of life's unfairness and tragedies.

It sucks.

But, dare they hope that they can make it....unsuck?

The world-building is efficient. We know just enough about the magic system to understand its fu
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it

Life is crazy at the moment so it took me longer than it should have to finish this short book.

I enjoyed flow of this book and the changing POV. I don't want to give too much away with this review but this is a good, quick book to read to ease into the spooky season with.
Lulu // the Book Rookery
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed-2018
A great book to read for October, The House in Poplar Wood by KE Ormsbee is simply fantastic. Though geared toward Middle Graders, I found this to be delightful. The pacing was amazing, the ending very well done, and the characters enjoyable.

Shades, spectral incarnations of Death, Memory, and Passion exist in a world where a select few know of them and are beholden to them. There are rules and laws to follow, but if you’re an all-powerful being, why should you? And what happens when you get tire
Jenni Frencham
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cyb2018, fantasy, tween
Ormsbee, K.E. The House in Poplar Wood. Chronicle Books, 2018.

Lee and his mother live in one half of their house and together serve Memory. Felix and his father live in the other half of the house and together serve Death. Felix has no memories of his mother, while Lee has never met his father. The twins can interact outside of the house, but when they turn sixteen they, too, will be apprenticed to Death and Memory for the rest of their lives. But both are looking for a way to break the contract
Palatine Library
The House in Poplar Wood is a novel by K.E. Ormsbee. In every town, there is a Death, Memory, and Passion. Each Shade has an apprentice bound to them for life to help them in their work. Lee and Felix Vickery are the children next in line to be apprentices, bound by the Agreement. Gretchen Whipple lives in a family of summoners. When Gretchen suspects foul play between the Shades, she teams up with Lee and Felix in return that she helps them break the Agreement.

I thought this book was very inte
Susie Chavez
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lee and Felix Vickery have lived in the same house with their parents since they were born, and yet the two have never shared a room, gone to school together, or any of the countless other things you'd expect from twins. Even stranger, Lee has never met his father and Felix has never met his mother.

Why? Because before the twins were born, their parents made a deal with Memory and Death. As apprentices for the two spirits, Mr. and Mrs. Vickery should never have met, much less fallen in love. Now,
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5. I wasn’t so sure about this one when I started it; the writing seemed a little clunky. It didn’t take me long to get into it though, and I found myself racing through it. Twins Lee and Felix live in separate ends of a house in the woods. Thanks to an Agreement between Death, their father’s boss, and Memory, their mother’s boss, the pair cannot see each other. So Lee lives with his mom and apprentices for Memory and Felix does the same with his dad for Death. Their respective parents ...more
Kady Monroe
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the story of two young brothers who are apprentices to "shades". The shades are Memory and Death. A murder happens in the town where they live and one brother finds himself pulled into investigating the crime by a member of a rival family. There are also other sub plots within the book which tie in nicely. All in all, it was quite enjoyable.
I liked most of the main characters and the plot(s) went along nicely to a satisfying conclusion.

The production and narration were both very good.
Mitzi Moshiri
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really a splendid read! Rich details, entertaining dialogue, and vivid characters. I also found the plot to be both exciting and unexpected. I loved the depiction of Death and the other Shades - and I also really enjoyed all of the human characters as well - despite their flaws. Although this book is a fantasy book set in a modern day sounding world, it really reads like a mystery...so much so that you often forget that magic doesn't exists. This book was reminiscent of the Thickety series by J. ...more
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-books
This one was a slow burn for me. It took me awhile to get into it, but I tore through the last 75 pages or so. I was a little confused about the rules of Poplar Wood and its surroundings. I think the narrative would have benefitted from a singular perspective. Gretchen would be my choice, because as the reader can learn in tandem she learns how the world works. It would appeal to readers of fantasy with reading comprehension skills to help through a story that is complex at times. Grades 3-6. MS ...more
Erin Wert
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
Finally got around to reading this- went with the audiobook because I was curious to hear Brian Holden’s narration, but I honestly may want to read the tangible book copy I have because it is such a fun story. But Brian’s narration was great and brought the characters alive well, including making me be mildly annoyed with Gretchen constantly mostly because she reminded me of myself too much 😂 this is a perfect book for fall!
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Charming, spooky, Appalachian - a trio of very good things. An excellent Halloween read, though enjoyable at any time.

And something else I’ve grown to love in Middle Grade that surprises even me: a deep family wrong to be righted. Heartbreak, joy, and deep justice aren’t too much for younger readers.

Definitely recommend!
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Talk about a house divided. The house in Poplar Wood is literally divided and each side is under obligation to work for a Shade: Death and Memory. This book was such a page turner and I did not want it to end.
Lindsay Bates
It was a good book but I thought that the middle dragged on. I like the ending for two reasons one it was the ending and two it made the story happier. This book is not a first choice recommendation for me so if you like mystery you might like this book.
Ms. Yingling
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus
I really enjoyed this; it was creepy and eerie, and fairly dark for a kids’ book. The story was tightly written, and the characters were flawed and yet still likeable. I liked that the premise isn’t clear right away; things get explained as the story unfolds. This distinctive fantasy is compelling and very memorable. I don’t want to say too much here, because I don’t want to give anything away, but this is a story that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
Celene Fraticelli
What a great concept for a book! I would gladly read this one again and again. A great spooky-middle grade read.
Audiobook Accomplice (Gillian)
Don’t be fooled by the audiobook cover—There’s a LOT more depth than cartoon figures might denote!
My Full Review
vliz Gutierrez
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm on a roll of amazing middle grade books.

This one has such a creative premise, characters amd conflict. I just want a whole series about what each set of Shades is like in different towns.
Jessica (Spooky KidLit & We Who Walk Here, Walk Alone)
Metaphors for the most universal human impulses and experiences walk and talk in K. E. Ormsbee's The House in Poplar Wood, a chilling and mournful but ultimately uplifting middle grade novel about duty, family, and creating your own path in life.

Twins Lee and Felix Vickery occupy the titular house, which is divided into two sections: the west end where Lee and his mother serve Memory, and the east end where Felix and his father serve Death. This is the Agreement, and it is has been in effect sin
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
After their parents made an Agreement with Death, the Vickery twins had to live with it. It meant that Felix had to serve Death alongside his father, witnessing healing and dying every day. Felix was not allowed to go to school and could not ever see his mother. His father could not see his brother Lee or his mother ever again. Lee in turn lived with his mother on the other side of the house serving Memory. He took bottled memories, labeled them and placed them on shelves. Both brothers had erra ...more
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Audiobooks: Free Copies of THE HOUSE IN POPLAR WOOD! 20 35 Dec 20, 2018 06:08AM  

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Kathryn (K.E.) Ormsbee is the author of books for children and young adults, including Tash Hearts Tolstoy and The House in Poplar Wood. Her novels have been critically acclaimed, translated into seven languages, selected for the Indie Next List and Junior Library Guild, and made “best of” lists at Amazon, BuzzFeed, and the Chicago and New York Public Libraries. She lives in Oregon with her wife a ...more

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“But how can you miss Felix when you don't know him?" "I carried you both inside me, him just as much as you. And do not tell me you don't miss your father because you've never known him." Lee grew quiet at the thought. Of course his mother was right: He missed his father with an inextinguishable love, even though he'd never seen his face.” 0 likes
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