Winterborne Home for Mayhem and Mystery by Ally Carter is a fun middle grade. Winterborne follows family mystery, foster kids, and murder!
Five orphans. Two sword-wielding vigilantes. One mansion. No rules.
April thought she had her happy ending. After all, she has her new house and new friends and new guardian. But she also has a very big new secret.
The kids of Winterborne House are the only ones who know that Gabriel Winterborne—famous billionaire and terrible cook—is really a sword-wielding vigilante.
What they don’t know is that he’s not the only one.
When a masked figure breaks in, looking for something—or someone—it’s clear that Gabriel has met his match, and now no one is safe. April and her friends will have to solve a decades-old mystery to hang on to the most important thing in the world: each other.
“Where April came from, girls almost always had to save themselves.”
Winterborne is a fast-paced continuation of the series Ally Carter is writing. Middle grades are notoriously darker and more realistic than YA books tend to be. This book is no exception to that. As April must explain to her friends the foster system, she’s also having to try and find her missing guardian. She openly laments the amount of stress, and trauma this is. I really appreciated the realism of that and the lack of sugar coating. Children do go through these things (maybe not the murder) and pay for them mentally.
“Everybody left. And Colin and April knew it.”
I enjoyed each of the characters in the book. However, I felt the boys could have had a little more fleshing out. While we know one is charming, and the other went through the same rough foster system as April, that’s about where it ends. Sadie and Violet get considerably more personality and growth. Character growth is important to my reading. When a character isn’t fleshed out enough to grow, it may not be worth having them at all. Despite that, I still adored them all and their relationships with one another.
“But April didn’t play. April Survived. And lately survival was a full-time job.”
The plot itself was really interesting. There was never a dull moment, and the pacing was consistent. The orphans are constantly being come at on all sides. Gabriel and Izzie are missing. On top of it, there’s a social worker trying to get them taken away? I wasn’t aware this was the second book initially but was able to grasp the plot quickly. I think this is important in middle grades, as often, kids are just picking them up at random. While it still felt like a bridge to the next book in the series, it translated well.
“You’re a liar,” April snapped.
“Of course I am. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.”
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.