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Ghosts of Greenglass House

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Ghosts of Greenglass House

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Author: Kate Milford
Publisher: Clarion Books, 2017
Series: Greenglass House: Book 2
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Juvenile Fantasy
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Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler's lost haul.

This exciting sequel to a beloved book that was praised in a starred review as "an enchanting, empowering read" is sure to thrill both fans and newcomers. Like its predecessor, it's a smart, suspenseful tale that offers ghosts, friendships, and a cast of unforgettable characters, all wrapped up in a cozy mystery.




Frost was pretty much the worst. It was like a promise with nothing behind it. It was like not enough icing on a cookie, not enough butter on toast. It was like the big gilt-framed antique mirror in his parents' bedroom: from a distance it was shiny and beautiful, but once you got close enough, you could see the plain old everyday wood peeking through the gold paint. Frost, at least when you wanted snow, was about as disappointing as anything in this world had a right to be'?assuming you figured things had a right to be disappointing. Milo Pine wasn't feeling that generous at the moment.

He knelt and leaned on the sill of one of the house's two big bow windows, examining the yard critically through a circle of clear glass in the middle of one white-rimed pane. An English-Mandarin dictionary and a notebook lay forgotten by one knee. Admittedly, the current spectacle was pretty impressive. The frost perfectly mimicked a dusting of snow, and because the temperature outside was so frigid, it had lasted through the day. It had crunched satisfyingly underfoot, too, which was a nice complement to the clouds that had puffed into the air with each breath as he'd crossed the lawn after his last day of school, headed back to the big old inn he and his parents called home. But it wasn't snow, which made it almost worse than nothing at all.

This was good. Being cranky about the weather was just what he needed to keep from thinking about the other things he didn't want to let up from the mental depths at which he could just barely manage to ignore them.

His mom sat down on the loveseat behind him and held out a steaming cup. "Want to talk about it?"

'I hate frost," Milo said in a tone that he hoped would signal to his mother to please not dare to suggest that the weather wasn't what was really bothering him.

Twilight was coming on, and he could sort of see her reflection in the glass. She had a look on her face that was both unimpressed and thoughtful, as if she had gotten the message and was debating whether or not to call him on it. But then, the glass was old, wavy and uneven, so maybe it was just twisting up her reflection funny. He reached back to take the cup.

On top of the hot chocolate was a float of unreasonably thick whipped cream that he'd heard Mrs. Caraway, the inn's cook, making about ten minutes ago. The cream was dusted with smashed candy cane bits, which was probably his mother's touch. He hazarded a look at her... she definitely knew he was upset about something other than weather. She was just waiting him out. Well, he could play that game too.

'thanks," he said, and turned resolutely back to the window.

'First hot chocolate of winter vacation.' Mrs. Pine raised her own cup. "Cheers."

'Cheers.' As they sipped, footsteps approached on the stairs. Reluctantly, Milo pivoted to look over his mom's shoulder, following the sound. The ground level of the inn was big and open, with one room flowing into the next, and from where he was, Milo could see pretty much the entire floor. "When's he leaving?' he asked, watching the bottom of the staircase on the other side of the dining room.

'tomorrow at some point. Supposedly," Mrs. Pine said quietly. Then she turned to the young man who appeared at the bottom of the stairs, a pencil behind one ear and glasses askew on his nose. "Drinks on the stove if you're done for the day, Mr. Syebuck."

Emmett Syebuck, their only guest, sighed happily. "I could just stay here forever. This place is amazing."

'Well, we're so glad you've enjoyed your visit."

'Hey, about that, Mrs. P."

Oh, no. Milo stifled a groan. His mom patted his shoulder.

The young man crossed the dining room and came to lean on the back of the loveseat. "I was thinking," he said. "One more day and I'll have every window at least sketched. Would it be a huge pain in the neck if I checked out day after tomorrow?"

Milo slurped in a huge mouthful to keep himself from answering. Yes, yes, it would, actually. I, personally, would find it a huge pain in the neck.

His mother, of course, said what Milo had known she'd say. 'that's no problem, Mr. Syebuck."

Their guest beamed. 'thanks, ma'am. And I wish you all would just call me Emmett."

'You're welcome, and I'll try, Emmett, but you know, old habits die hard.' Mrs. Pine glanced into the kitchen. 'mrs. Caraway leaves tonight, though, so just be aware that meals will be a little less fancy tomorrow."

'It could be toast and instant noodle soup and I'd be perfectly content," Emmett assured her. "I'm a simple fellow at heart. And in a pinch, some of my colored pencils are kind of tasty'?not that I've tried them or anything."

Milo's mother laughed. "It won't come to that."

'Well, thanks again. And hey, thank you, too, Milo."

Milo turned, surprised. "What for?"

'For letting me impose on your holidays. I promise I'll be out of your hair before Christmas Eve. I know how it is."

'It's okay," Milo said gruffly.

'Well, I appreciate it. And now that I don't have to pack tonight, I think I'll relax and just stare at the fire awhile.' He drummed a short ba-da-ba-bump on the back of the loveseat with his palms, then straightened and went into the kitchen.

'You think he's really an art student?' Mrs. Pine asked in an undertone.

'Probably," Milo said. 'that or he's Skellansen in disguise, wanting to make sure his precious chandelier's being looked after properly.' They'd been amusing themselves with speculations like this since the day Emmett had showed up.

'He's too young for Skellansen."

Milo eyed the guest's back critically. "Lots of makeup. And super-thin rubber prosthetics, like in the movies. You can do miracles with that stuff."

'Hmm. Maybe."

Among the many occurrences that had made last year's winter break about the strangest time in Milo's life was the discovery at Greenglass House of a cartoon: a valuable drawing of a stained-glass window by a mysterious artist named Lowell Skellansen. One of the inn's guests at the time, Dr. Wilbur Gowervine, had presented the cartoon along with a lecture at Nagspeake's City University over the summer. A couple months after that, Emmett Syebuck'?student, artist, and Skellansen fanboy'?had turned up toting enough art and photography supplies to open a store, eager to learn more about the house and its collection of stained glass.

It wasn't Dr. Gowervine's fault. After much discussion with Milo's parents, he'd promised to keep the location of the find between himself and his department chair. Still, when you took into account that not only Dr. Gowervine but five other guests had made their way to the inn last December by following different bits of the house's history to its doorstep, maybe the only surprising thing was that more curiosity seekers hadn't worked out where the mysterious Skellansen artwork had come from.

Not that the Pines had admitted to anything when Emmett had turned up, other than to confirm that yes, they had also attended the lecture, and yes, they suspected that the chandelier over the dining room table was a piece of Skellansen glass. But that had been enough for Emmett. The guy acted like a kid on Christmas morning. Every single day. And he'd been here a week already.

Of course, the other notable thing about last year was that none of the strangers who'd come to the inn that Christmas had been there for the reasons they'd claimed they were. Hence the Is Syebuck who he says he is? game, even though Milo was pretty sure that was all it was'?a game. And really, Emmett's presence was fine, as long as he did what he said he would and got the heck out before Christmas Eve.

The door swung open, letting in a gust of wind but'?naturally'?no accompanying swirl of snow. Stupid frost. Didn't even blow around in the wind. Instead, the gust swept Milo's father inside with an armful of firewood. Mrs. Pine got up. "Ben, Mr. Syebuck'?Emmett'?is going to stay on an extra night."

'If that's okay," Emmett called from the kitchen, where Mrs. Caraway was busy ladling hot chocolate into his mug.

'Not a problem," Mr. Pine called back as he kicked off his boots on his way to the fireplace.

Mrs. Caraway joined Milo's parents in the living room. "Nora, Ben, you guys want me to stay on an extra night too?"

'No, no," Mrs. Pine said immediately. "Isn't Lizzie already coming to pick you up?"

'Probably, but she was out running errands anyway. I don't think she'll mind having made the trip. I might invite her to stay for dinner."

'Of course."

Mrs. Caraway turned to Milo. "Any requests? Grilled cheese and tomato soup? I have chili fixings ...' She glanced at the dictionary on the floor. "Or I have some surprisingly good tomatoes that would be amazing in the egg-and-tomato stir-fry dish you like whose name I always mangle."

'Xihóngshì chao jidàn," Milo said promptly. There weren't a ton of Chinese dishes he confidently knew the names of, but this one he'd made sure to memorize. "Yes, please. And maybe grilled cheese, too?' It wasn't the kind of dinner she usually made when there were guests, but then Milo didn't usually get asked for his input.

'Grilled cheese is my actual favorite sandwich," Emmett said as he dropped contentedly onto the sofa in the living room. "And I'm generally a fan of tomatoes and eggs. This is great."

'Well, good.' Milo dropped his chin into his hands, waiting for that special relief that usually came with getting home from school at the start of vacation. It hadn't come yet, and the more he looked for it, the further away it seemed. Instead, he was tense and tight. And frustrated. And angry. And he wasn't sure whether it was Emmett's presence that was keeping him from feeling good or all the other stuff. Unfortunately, that uncertainty made all those worries he'd tried to cover with a layer of disappointing frost come bubbling back up.

You don't have to feel this way, he told himself. Negret wouldn't feel this way.

It didn't help. Not even remotely. That was maybe the most frustrating thing of all.

His father sat down on the floor next to him. "Hey, pal."


'so your mom said when you first got home you mentioned that something happened at school today."

'It was yesterday. I just didn't want to talk about it.' Still don't, he added silently.

'Do you'' His father stopped mid-question and shifted gears. "Was it social studies again?"

Milo scowled at the window and nodded stiffly.

His father started to speak, paused, then said, 'I think if you could tell me what happened so Mom and I can talk to the teacher, it's possible you might feel a little better."

'Why?' Milo asked. "It won't change that it happened."

'that's true, but would any part of you feel better knowing it won't happen again?"

'You don't know that," Milo grumbled. "Even if you and Mom talk to him, you don't know that."

'I submit that it's worth a shot," Mr. Pine said. "If we don't try, then we can be almost sure it will happen again, don't you think? Or did you explain to him afterward, like you said you would last time he upset you?"

'No," Milo admitted in a very small voice.

'Wasn't that our agreement, though?' his dad asked gently. "You said you didn't need Mom and me to do it because you wanted to try yourself."

Milo nodded.

Mr. Pine nodded too. "Okay, well, how about this: how about we just start with you telling me what happened so you can get it off your chest?"

Getting it off your chest never did any good. That was a parent thing, thinking that talking about stuff helped. Because'?and why did no one understand this?'?nothing could change that the awful thing had already happened. That was why you felt crummy afterward, obviously'?because it happened, not because you needed to talk about it and live through it all over again. But Milo didn't have any better ideas, and his dad didn't look as if he was going to leave.

'All right.' He took a deep breath. "We're still studying Nagspeake history in the nineteenth century."

'I remember."

'Well, I guess after I said the thing last week about how our house was built during the War of 1812 and Mr. Chancelor said what he said''?here Milo forced himself to soldier on and not think about the previous week's debacle'?'I guess after that, he must've gone home and done some research, because yesterday he came in and said some Nagspeake historian he knew had found something about a Chinese crew that came to the city much later, and Mr. Chancelor showed the whole class some written characters that I guess made up the name of the ship, and he asked me to translate them for everybody.' His voice had gone shaky. "And I didn't know them. So then he read the Mandarin pronunciation out loud, and asked me to translate that.' He gulped air. "And I still didn't know."

His father sighed. 'that is utter crap, Milo. I'm so sorry."

It was three kinds of utter crap, if you wanted to get technical. In the first place, when Milo had raised his hand while they were discussing the War of 1812 to mention that Greenglass House'?Lansdegown House, as it had been called then'?had been built by a seafaring family with a Chinese child in it just before the war, Mr. Chancelor had said that in fact, there hadn't been any Chinese crews to visit Nagspeake until much later in the century. Milo had started to explain that it hadn't been a Chinese crew, it had been a British and Chinese blended family called Bluecrowne, but Mr. Chancelor had already moved on, as if he'd proved Milo wrong and that was that. This had been the cause of last week's breakdown.

Then yesterday had been crummy for two separate reasons. First, Mr. Chancelor had acted as though finding a Chinese crew arriving in Nagspeake in 1835 proved for sure that Milo was wrong about the Bluecrownes and their Chinese family members getting there earlier. That alone would've been untenable, because Milo wasn't wrong. Then the teacher had produced those characters and assumed Milo would be able to translate them just because he was Chinese, which had embarrassed him in front of his whole class. And that had been awful, not to mention unfair.

It was unfair because Milo did know a number of characters. He and his parents had been learning together for a while now, only they were learning Simplified Chinese characters, and from the looks of it, whatever writing system the ship's name had been composed in two hundred years ago was vastly more complicated than what Milo was studying. It was doubly unfair because he and his parents were learning Mandarin, too'?but he wasn't a native speaker, in part because he'd grown up in Nagspeake, where the Chinese population still wasn't that big, and in part because he'd grown up with a mom and dad who not only weren't native speakers either, they were white. Plus there were a ton of distinct dialects used in China, so even if Milo had been a native speaker, Mr. Chancelor still shouldn't have assumed he'd necessarily speak Mandarin. There was really no way to know whether even Milo's own birth family had spoken it; he and his parents had chosen Mandarin to learn because it had been easiest for Milo's school to find him a Mandarin tutor. And it was extra-super really unfair because Milo was pretty sure there were plenty of actual Chinese people who wouldn't recognize every single Chinese character there was and plenty who couldn't read them at all.

But none of that was the truly awful part. The truly awful part was that all of these things, taken together, made Milo feel as if the phrase 'actual Chinese person' didn't actually apply to him.

Mr. Pine leaned his elbows on his knees. "I'm guessing after that, it didn't feel like you could explain to him why it was upsetting."

No. After that, it had been all Milo could do not to burst into tears, and he'd gotten out of the classroom as fast as possible the minute it was time to go to lunch, where he'd worked hard to tamp down the panic attack he could feel coming on.

He shook his head. "I couldn't think of anything to say.' Also: tears. Also: panic attack.

'I think I'd have felt the same way.' His dad glanced at the dictionary and notebook on the floor. "I guess that explains those. Getting some vocabulary work in?"

'Yeah.' They sat together for a moment, watching the twilight darken across the glittering lawn. In the living room behind them, the new wood crackled in the fireplace, and the smell tugged at Milo's heart. It's vacation, that smell said. It's almost Christmas. You can be happy. Just let yourself be happy.

Mr. Pine put an arm around him, and Milo leaned into his shoulder. "Hey, speaking of vocabulary, I have some new words I looked up this week. I need to double-check pronunciation, but here goes.' Milo's dad held up his index finger. "First: bridge. Either qiáo or qiáoliáng, although I think qiáoliáng might mean a metaphorical bridge. Second: broken, meaning falling apart'?that's cánpò. Then there's ferry, meaning the boat, which I think is dùchùan. Lastly: late. Wan."

Milo grinned. 'so what you're telling me here is that you didn't make it on time to that meeting you were going to today."

'I did not," Mr. Pine confirmed, 'but let's focus on the fact that I can almost explain why in Mandarin. What've you got?"

Milo picked up his notebook. "Winter is dongtian. A covering of snow is jixue. Frost is shuang. Annoying is naorén. That's as far as I got."

Mr. Pine chuckled. 'tell me how you really feel.' Then his expression sobered. "Listen, you don't have to make a decision now, but I want you to think something over. It sounds to me like Mr. Chancelor thinks he's finding interesting things about the Chinese in Nagspeake, and he's just excited to share them. He doesn't realize how uncomfortable it makes you to be singled out, and he doesn't understand that he shouldn't make assumptions about you based on how you look. I think most people know they shouldn't make bad assumptions about people, but they don't always get that making any assumptions is probably not a good idea. And he probably knows you have a language tutor. Teachers do talk with each other. That could be why he thought you might know the Mandarin, anyway."

'I guess.' It might've been logical, but it wasn't precisely comforting. Milo could barely even deal with the idea of being talked about by people he loved and trusted, and Mr. Chancelor definitely fell outside that category.

His dad made a sympathetic face. He knew. "I think it's time your mom and I talk to him and just explain things. I bet you anything we can straighten it out, and then you won't have to worry anymore.' He held out his right pinkie. "But we won't do it unless you say it's okay."

Milo linked his pinkie with his dad's. Pinkie-swears were unbreakable vows. "If I say yes, you have to make him understand that I'm right about the Bluecrownes who built Greenglass House."

'Well, obviously. Are you kidding?' They shook their linked fingers. "Now maybe, if you can, try not to think about it anymore for a while. Because when you think about this kind of thing, you worry, and worrying just makes you feel worse."

That much was true, even if it was easier to say you were going to stop worrying than to actually do it. "I'll try."

'All right. We'll revisit this closer to New Year's, and in the meantime, if you want to talk more, you can come to Mom and me anytime. Deal?"


'Great. And may I also compliment you on your choice of dinner menu?"

'You may."

Milo's dad got up and went off to do whatever parents did to keep themselves from bugging you when you plainly wanted space. And while Milo was trying to decide whether he felt better or not, the unthinkable happened.

The bell rang.

Copyright © 2017 by Kate Milford


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