Friday, March 27, 2020

REVIEW: Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor

“A fast-paced thrill ride of a book. . . it’s Batman meets Annie.” —Stuart Gibbs, New York Times best-selling author of the Spy School series

“An adventure-filled read with a twisty mystery and spunky friendships. I loved it!” –Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times best-selling author of The Descendants series

April didn't mean to start the fire. She wasn’t the one who broke the vase. April didn’t ask to go live in a big, creepy mansion with a bunch of orphans who just don't understand that April isn’t like them. After all, April’s mother is coming back for her someday very soon.

All April has to do is find the clues her mother left inside the massive mansion. But Winterborne House is hiding more than one secret, so April and her friends are going to have to work together to unravel the riddle of a missing heir, a creepy legend, and a mysterious key before the only home they’ve ever known is lost to them forever. 
I love Ally Carter's books and I adore reading middle grade, so I was definitely excited for this book! I didn't enjoy this book as much as I expected, but it was still a fun read.

April doesn't have parents. Years ago, when she was a baby, her mother left her only with a key and a claim that she would come back. April still holds onto that hope, and when a museum trip leads her to a chest that seems to match her key, she thinks she may find her answers. But, instead, she accidentally sets the museum on fire. And that somehow sends her to the Winterborne House and under their care. The house is great, and the other children are nice, but April can't help but wonder if her key, and her mother, are connected to the Winterbornes, but she ends up stumbling on an even bigger mystery.

I'll start off with some positives: I loved the mystery. That's what drew me to this story in the first place. The book has plenty of mysterious elements. There's April's past, the mysterious key, and the supposedly dead heir. The Winterbornes themselves are really a mystery! There is even an almost superhero/villain vibe to the book, which is even more evident further into the book. The mystery really reminded me a little of the earlier Gallagher Girls books, and it carries a little bit of that nostalgia. Still, the mystery is new and it's own story. Some things felt predictable to me, as an adult, but there are many things that I just don't know how they will be resolved.

I loved the characters and I thought that their interactions with each other in the house were fantastic, although it takes a while for the characters to team-up together. I did have issues with their characterizations. I felt like most of the characters weren't that well-developed. They were known for doing one thing and that was their one thing. Sadie, for example, is a smart inventor and that's really all she does in the book. When the child characters were all together, I would sometimes mix-up their dialogue. April, our MC, was really hard to read at times and I felt like I couldn't always connect with her. Usually, I feel like characters grow and change throughout a book and I guess we get that with April, but the book felt like an introduction to the cast without me really getting to know who they are besides surface-level interests.

I found the setting to be fantastic, creepy mansions are always fun in middlegrade, but it wasn't quite what I expected from the synopsis. I think I expected this to take place at a school/orphanage, but it wasn't really either. It could technically be an orphanage, but there are only five kids (and all five are on the cover). The cover really made me think it was a school because of the matching outfits. I kind of understand why it wasn't a school-esqe setting, since Ally Carter already has the Gapagher Girls series, but it took me by surprise. Although, having a small cast of characters was better for this book and made the mansion feel that much more vast.

As for pacing, there were plenty of moments where I couldn't wait to read what would happen next, but there were also moments where I felt like the plot was moving slowly. We have intense action scenes, along with scenes of characters just wandering around the mansion. As for the ending, the ending was very intriguing. I don't think I fully understand what happened and I won't until book two (I hope there is a book two), but I wasn't really expecting the connection between the two [highlight to view spoiler] The Sentinal and the Winterbornes. I honestly did not expect the Sentinal to be such a big part of the book.[end of spoiler]

Overall, I have mixed feelings. I liked the mystery and despite my issues with the characterization, I do think there are some great characters in this book. It is a fun middlegrade book and I think middle schoolers will enjoy this book. I think this book felt like an introduction to a series rather than the actual first book. I didn't really get enough answers, even for a first book, and the characters weren't developed enough. Still, I hope to read more in this series.
I hereby give this book
3 Stars
Meaning: I liked it

No comments :

Post a Comment