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Review of The House of Months and Years

trevayne_house of months and yearsThe House of Months and Years
by Emma Trevayne
Intermediate, Middle School    Simon    274 pp.
2/17    978-1-4814-6255-6    $16.99    g
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-6257-0    $10.99

After the tragic deaths of her aunt and uncle, Amelia and her parents move out of their own home and in with Amelia’s orphaned cousins. Nudiustertian House (nudiustertian meaning “relating to the day before yesterday”) is old and peculiar, and it gives Amelia the sensation of being watched. Her new room is always too hot, the basement is freezing, and the house seems to be stealing her dreams. Clever Amelia begins to study the house, but she doesn’t begin to learn its secrets until its true owner, Horatio, reveals himself. Nudiustertian House appears to be a “calendar house”: four floors (one for each season), twelve rooms, seven fireplaces, fifty-two windows, and twenty-four doors, the last one opening onto a blank brick wall — but through that door, Horatio explains, he can travel to the past and future, and he wants Amelia to become his apprentice. Trevayne (The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden, rev. 7/15) makes her disclosures with tantalizing slowness; the opening chapters have the feel of a first-class ghost story, and even after Horatio’s appearance, many of Amelia’s questions continue to go unanswered. Contrasted with the otherworldly goings-on behind the twenty-fourth door, Amelia’s interactions with her parents and bereaved cousins are purely human and relatable. Exploring the ties between memory, grief, and time, Trevayne does finally reveal what Horatio is and what he actually wants from Amelia and her family — but at that point it just might be too late.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Anita L. Burkam About Anita L. Burkam

Horn Book reviewer Anita L. Burkam is former associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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