Monday, December 31, 2018

The House in Poplar Wood by K.E. Ormsbee

Thanks to The Agreement, brothers Lee and Felix each live with one of their parents and cannot see the other.  Lee lives with his mother who serves Memory, a Shade who helps people remember or forget memories.  Felix lives with their father who serves Death. Because the parents serve different Shades, they cannot see each other nor their other son.  Both boys help their respective parent and it is assumed they will each become the next apprentices to the Shades at age 16.  Both boys would like to free their family from The Agreement but that seems impossible until Gretchen comes into their lives.  Gretchen comes from a family of Summoners - people who can command the Shades through Rites - and has been told to stay away from Lee and Felix.  But after overhearing a conversation that indicates Death might have overstepped his role, Gretchen wants help investigating what's really happening and she won't take no for an answer when it comes to getting the brothers to comply.  In return, she might be able to help with their family problem.

This book has such a unique premise and that usually translates to a big thumbs up for me but I'm feeling somewhat ambivalent about it.  There were parts that I found intriguing and wanted to keep reading, but overall it wasn't a page-turner for me.  It would've helped a bit if the roles of the Shades, Summoners and apprentices were more clearly explained earlier on but I got there with it all.  It also would've helped if the terms of The Agreement had been explainer earlier on but again, I got there.  But really, those are small quibbles.  I think the biggest problem for me was that the solving of the mystery and the role each character played in it didn't become fascinating for me until too late in the book.  Also, the feeling seemed to vacillate between spooky/scary and more straight up mystery.  With supernatural suspects.  Not a bad book, but not a favorite.

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