Review Detail

Children saving the world... if they don't destroy it, first!
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
April lives in an orphanage, and on a class trip to the Winterbourne Museum, she has a disastrous experience and ends up in the hospital after causing a fire that takes out much of the collection. She doesn't get in trouble, however; she is spirited away from the hospital by Ms. Nelson and told that she will live at the Winterbourne house with fellow orphans Colin, Sadie, Tim and Violet. There is a big problem with the Winterbourne estate. Gabriel, who was orphaned when his parents' boat capsized and he was the only survivor, has been missing for ten years. An uncle, Evert, seeks to inherit, but Gabriel has not yet been declared dead. In the meantime, the house is run by the butler, Smithers, and is home to this small group of children who have tangential relationships with the family. April herself has a key with the Winterbourne crest on a necklace that is the only thing she has left from her mother, who abandoned her. Because she is naturally curious and impulsive, April takes it upon herself to investigate the house to try to find a box with treasure that her key will open. She doesn't find it, but she does find a mysterious man living in a hidden room in the mansion. Will she and the other children be able to solve the mystery, despite the many dangers, and settle the matter of the Winterbourne inheritance once and for all? (I don't want to spoil this mystery!)
Good Points
April is a feisty, engaging character with a mystery she doesn't know how to begin to solve. The other students, especially the inventive Sadie, are fun as well. The Winterbourne house is one that readers will wish they could run off to in order to explore its secret passageways, and the mystery is nicely convoluted, but not too difficult to follow. I suspect there will be other books in the series, since this ended with suspicious characters with swords running off into the night.

Like Ponti's new City Spies , this involves orphaned children who are approached by some sort of secret organization to work. It's essential to get parents out of the way so that middle grade characters can have adventures, and bringing the children together to combat villains is wish fulfillment at its finest.

Carter's I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You is one of my most favorite books! She has a real knack for putting her characters into improbably situations in ways that I absolutely believe. This will appeal to readers who enjoy Lemony Snicket or the similarly named Winterhouse. I love that the cover incorporates plaid uniforms similar to the ones on the cover of the Gallagher Girls books. (Which are still available in paperback.)
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