Review of The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story

The Thief Knot: A Greenglass House Story
by Kate Milford; illus. by Jaime Zollars
Intermediate, Middle School    Clarion    456 pp.
1/20    978-1-328-46689-1    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-358-16427-2    $9.99

In the Liberty, a part of Nagspeake (Greenglass House, rev. 9/14, and sequels) where retired rogues and smugglers find sanctuary from the long arm of the law, Marzana takes it upon herself to solve a mystery after her mother is asked to find a kidnapping victim. Hoping to help rescue the missing girl, and despite her extreme social anxiety, Marzana assembles a team (or “knot”) of her own: her best friend and codebreaker Nialla; a magician named J. J.; Ciro, a “camofleur,” or expert in hiding things in plain sight; and Meddy, the ghost from Greenglass House who arrives via parcel post. The team makes progress following up on several clues, but kidnapping isn’t a game, and Marzana’s parents are furious when they discover the knot members putting themselves in danger. This entry shows all of Milford’s strengths: theme-expanding stories within stories, a thrilling genre fusion, swashbuckling technical mastery (here, lock-picking, cryptography, and sleight-of-hand magic), a vocabulary to delight the word-nerds, and an invented world real enough to live in. Delivering layers upon layers, convincing characters who succeed despite their emotional challenges, and a brain-tingling mystery that unfolds at just the right speed, this ghostly fantasy-adventure is a humdinger of a good read.

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

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

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