Cover Image: The Thief Knot

The Thief Knot

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I'm always excited to pick up a new Kate Milford book, and The Thief Knot is no exception. It is a little different from the other Greenglass House books, though, even though it exists in the same imaginary Nagspeake — while the rest of the series is composed of intricately layered puzzle-box stories, The Thief Knot is more of a straightforward mystery. Mars and her friends live in Liberty, a secret enclave of Nagspeake where adventurers (and criminals) can live in relative anonymity and safety. Their parents have big, excitement-packed lives, but part of the way they manage to juggle their dramatic careers and their peaceful families is by keeping their children completely out of the loop. Of course, all Mars wants is to have an adventure of her own — so when a local girl goes missing, Mars forms a detective club with her best friend and other thrill-seeking kids (including a ghost) to find the missing girl and save the day. This is a fun mystery full of delightful characters (including some you'll recognize from other Greenglass books) and playful twists and turns. It's not my favorite Milford, but it's definitely a worthy read.
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NOTE: I received an ARC copy of this book on NetGalley. I received no incentive to read or review this book other than said copy of work. The review below contains my own thoughts and opinions. Special thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the free copy. THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

One of the first books I reviewed when I started getting ARCs was Greenglass House by Kate Milford. I loved the depth of characters and the page-turning puzzles. So of course when I saw there was a sequel, I HAD to have it. Now, it's important to note this is book 4 in the series, which I didn't realize until halfway through, but it can be read as a standalone with very few spoilers regarding the other books. I still plan to read the other books (which are on hold at my library due to COVID-19) and I don't feel like this book ruined them for me. This book follows best friends Marzana and Nialla who live outside of Nagspeake in a place called the Gammerbund, where a lot of interesting people live but nothing interesting ever happens - or so Marzana thinks. When her parents are visited by someone seeking their help finding a kidnapped girl, Marzana is quickly pulled into the mystery and decides this is her chance to have an adventure. She rounds up a group of friends, old and new, and they try to find the missing girl before it's too late and before their parents find out what they're doing. 

Now, on to the things I really liked about this story. I loved that there are so many strong, female characters. You have Marzana, Nialla, Emilia, Meddy, Violet, and even Peony. I love that Marzana experiences anxiety and that her character grows and develops coping skills and confidence, but that at the end she is still herself. She still has anxiety, she has just learned how to handle it better. She puts her foot in her mouth and says hurtful things and she doesn't realize or resolve them immediately. In this respect, her development does not feel rushed. I liked the development of new friendships and the story behind the group's name. I liked the tension between Marzana feeling left out of her mom's stories and Meddy and Emilia knowing the stories but their parents being deceased and how it reflects that people have different perspectives. I also liked the final puzzle of what the kidnappers were looking for. I felt it was touching and a poignant lesson to learn, but it also made me sad they couldn't at least let the kidnappers see the solution to the puzzle - without spoiling the big twist, I feel like given the unique circumstances, some compassion was called for in this case. 

I think part of the reason I couldn't rate this higher is that at almost 500 pages, I felt like it dragged and went off-topic too many times. I found myself getting distracted and disappointed, which was upsetting considering Greenglass House is one of my favorites. It is almost 100 pages longer than the other books in the series besides Ghosts of Greenglass House, and I just felt like there were definitely some parts that could have been cut. The result is a book that moves slower than Old Iron and ultimately felt like a Thief Knot itself - tied loosely and falling apart at the slightest nudge.

There were three main elements that I felt were unnecessarily included and took up a lot of space without a lot of payoff - the old iron, the mysterious tea shop the children explore, and Peony's message. Firstly, the old iron does provide a gorgeous setting and interesting history of why the city has limited technological development and why the Belowground stations have halted. It is an intriguing element that deserves to be a mystery of its own - but delivery on that fell flat because we got no answers on exactly what it is and why it moves on its own. Perhaps these things will be discussed in other books, but I feel like if you take up nearly 40 pages to describe it, it should be treated as more than a simple setting. I felt like it was only included because it looks nice and provides great imagery, but if that is true, it could have been accomplished in far less pages. 

Second, Sodalime's Glass Museum and Radioactive Teashop. A very interesting place the children explore, with interesting pieces of glass and magically-appearing food from invisible hosts (that they eat without any questions, which is weird for children who ask so many questions - did no one consider this food could be put there to harm them?). This location is beautifully described but we never find out any answers as to why it was created by the author.

And finally, Peony's message. We spent so many pages learning that Peony had hand-cut the pages from her graphic novel so that there would be a secret message. It turns out this message does give clues to where she is. And based on the way the message is written about teacups, it seemed to me like it could be in Sodalime's, which would give us answers as to how there is food prepared when the children arrive and why Sodalime's is even brought up in the first place. But no, Peony is instead found in an abandoned amusement park teacup ride. So is that our answer? That Sodalime's is a red herring for readers who want to try to solve the mystery themselves? If so, it feels disingenuous to mislead your readers when the real answer is not given. The amusement park is not mentioned prior to the reveal, so there is no way to solve the puzzle on your own. 

Like some other reviewers, if this had been a standalone book, I feel like I would have expected less and enjoyed it more. But I did expect more out of Greenglass House. I loved the characters and the story, but the execution left something to be desired. It is a good book, but I did not feel the same way as I did about Greenglass House. It left me with far too many questions that I feel won't be answered later in the series.
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My 12-year-old is legit obsessed with Greenglass House; she's read the first two books at least a dozen times, pretends to be the characters, and recommends the stories to everyone she knows. So when she asked if she could read and review THE THIEF KNOT for me, I couldn't refuse! Here's her review!
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Marzana Hakelbarend lives in the Liberty of Gammerbund, which--as her best friend, Nialla, puts it--is the town where nothing happens. But then, one evening, Marzana learns that a kidnapping has been committed...and that the suspect is probably in the Liberty! Soon, she’s on an awesome adventure to find the crook--or crooks?--and save the victim! With the help of Nialla, some new friends--and one old one--she’s ready to take on anything. But with obstacles occuring (and parents getting suspicious), she has to decide: will she stand down and let the adults take charge, or will she and her friends save the day?

This book is an offshoot to one of my favorite series, the Greenglass House books, and is just as fun! I loved how Kate Milford put so many differences in this book than in previous books but still managed to keep the elements (like plot twists and great characters) that make you love them!

This book is especially recomended for fans of The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor, or any of Kate Milford’s other books!
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Though I am usually a strict stickler for reading series in order, I skipped over Bluecrowne and jumped right from Ghosts of Greenglass House to this one. Though I obviously don't know what I missed in Bluecrowne, I had no problem following this story with only my knowledge of the first two books. One of my favorite things about Ghosts of Greenglass House was the introduction to the Liberty of Gammerbund, so I loved being able to read a story set in that community, starring one of the members of the group of carolers that visits Greenglass House. I also really enjoyed the mystery plot, which brings together a whole host of interesting characters to solve the kidnapping of a young local girl. The involvement of characters from previous books was also really fun. This entire series has been well-written, smart, and engaging and this book is no exception. I loved it!
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A fun book! I had read Greenglass House but not the sequel, and still understood this book fine (though it did mention Ghost of Greenglass House a few times). I liked the twist that came about 2/3 of the way into the book, though I didn't love the final ending.
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I enjoy the world in which this series of books is set. All the books have gorgeous covers, but this one is by far my favorite cover of the series. The story was good, but I really felt the length of it; it took a really long time to get through the set up and get the story off the ground. The second half of the book moved at a much better pace and was more interesting.
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The Thief Knot was a twisty, suspenseful novel that satisfied my hunger for more stories in the Greenglass House universe. The book follows Marzana, who was a side character in Ghosts of Greenglass House, as she gets to head off her own adventure with old and new characters. Though she is shy and socially anxious, she is able to gather a crew with diverse talents for her mission to find a kidnapped girl and unravel the mystery at the center of it. As with the other books, there is a lot of sneaking around, clue-gathering, brainstorming, and risk-taking on the part of the kids, who are working outside the supervision of adults. There are red-herrings and epiphanies and the sense that everything is far more connected than you could imagine. There is also exploration of family the power of stories that grounds the larger-than-life aspects. I love the magic Kate Milford spins with these stories, and I hope there will be more books in this series.
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The Thief Knot is great fun by Kate Milford.  This is the fourth in the Greenglass House series, but having not read the previous books, I can say with complete confidence that this is a stand alone tale.  However, having said that, I now want to go back and meet the characters in the years leading up to The Thief Knot.  The story follows a group of students longing for adventure, who find it in chasing clues to a potentially dangerous criminal case.  Friendships, acceptance, humor, magic and the supernatural all take place in a fantastic setting of fantasy.  Marzana has intriguing parents and friends who all set out to solve the case, with the children being somewhat rogue detectives.  Milford has created a wonderful, magical setting that will ignite readers' imaginations.  It's a very exciting and exhilarating read, with wonderful themes of acceptance for who people are and living up to your own potential and not that held to you by others.   I will be purchasing a copy of this for my classroom and urging my middle grades students to pick it up.  I foresee them gobbling this series up!  

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Marzana Hakelbarend and her best friend Nialla Giddis live in the town of Liberty of Gammerbund, and according to them, it is a place where nothing happens. This changes when an  girl is kidnapped, and Marzana's parents are asked to help solve the crime. Marzana and her friends join the mystery by searching secret corridors that change, which complicates the search for the identity and location of abductors. Obvious fantasy with paranormal, mystery with humor, and puzzles at every turn, will make the third installment of the Greenglass House, which I consider a stand alone, a hit with middle schoolers. Thank you to Clarion, and imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for sharing an ARC via Netgalley
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4.5 stars. So fun! I didn't realize this was part of a series/larger world, but it stands well on its own. Terrific characters - they really made this special. I don't know that I would go back and read the other Greenglass House books (more as a matter of time than level of interest), but I would absolutely read more Thief Knot books!

Mystery/heist type story with a terrific ensemble cast, some fantasy elements - great story with some terrific twists.
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Great mystery with a lot of twists and turns, and a lot of great characters - especially Marzana, who I can really relate to. The world building is great, feels like a combination of the old-fashioned and the modern. Haven't read the previous books in the series but want to now, and we'll be purchasing all of them.
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This book was truly fantastic. Milford takes the reader back to the world of Nagspeake that she so artfully created in Greenglass House and adds even more layers and rich details. The Thief Knot is, at its heart, an excellently-told, perfectly-plotted mystery.
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"Ghosts, a kidnapping, a crew of young detectives, and family secrets mix in this new standalone mystery set in the world of the best-selling Greenglass House, from a National Book Award nominee and Edgar Award-winning author.

Marzana and her best friend are bored. Even though they live in a notorious city where normal rules do not apply, nothing interesting ever happens to them. Nothing, that is, until Marzana’s parents are recruited to help solve an odd crime, and she realizes that this could be the excitement she’s been waiting for. She assembles a group of kid detectives with special skills - including the ghost of a ship captain’s daughter - and together, they explore hidden passageways, navigate architecture that changes overnight, and try to unravel the puzzle of who the kidnappers are - and where they’re hiding. But will they beat the deadline for a ransom that’s impossible to pay?

Legendary smugglers, suspicious teachers, and some scary bad guys are just a few of the adults the crew must circumvent while discovering hidden truths about their families and themselves in this smart, richly imagined tale."

A new Greenglass House Story? Yes please and thank you.
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In order to fully appreciate this book, make sure that you read the previous books in the series.  I repeat, read the other books first.  This book is confusing to follow if you are reading it as a standalone.  I personally could have benefited from more background information.  In this book, we follow a girl named Marzana.  Her parents are bought in to help find a kidnapped girl and Marzana decides to do the same.  She is tired of her parents keeping everything from her to ensure her safety.  Marzana along with the help of some friends set out to find the girl before it is too late.  

The story was a bit longer than I expected.  I believe it would be a great story for middle schoolers.  It contains the humor they would love, the secrets they like to think they can keep, and a twist of mystery.
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Fantastic addition to the Greenglass House world. I hope to see more of these characters in the future.
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I’m a big fan of Kate Milford.  The Greenglass House is a favorite in our home and I am constantly recommending it to students in our school library. Her new book, The Thief Knot is an excellent continuation of this series. It can be read as a stand-alone mystery, but is full of literary nuggets from her other books. The story revolves around a mysterious kidnapping that 12 year old Marzana’s parents have been asked to help solve. Marzana, who feels that nothing exciting ever happens in her town, decides to try and solve the mystery herself. She assembles a crew of peers. Each member has been chosen for their unique abilities. Together they begin to unravel what really happened and who is involved. In order to do this, she has to overcome her social anxiety and learn how to become a leader using her own unique qualities. 
The characters in this book are relatable, vivid and fun. The setting in which this story takes place is so rich and engaging. The twists and turns of the plot keep the readers entertained throughout the entire book. It’s another enjoyable piece of work by Kate Milford. I definitely recommend it for school libraries, elementary through middle school.
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I received an electronic ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group through NetGalley.
This 4th book in the Greenglass House series begins painfully slowly. Milford takes too long establishing all of the new characters before introducing any action to the book. Eliminating a third of the opening chapters information would help readers engage faster.
 The group of children connect to solve a kidnapping and have to learn to trust each other and their own strengths and weaknesses. They solve the crime and discover new stations on the Belowground system. Marzana also gains the courage to talk to her mom about her feelings about all the secrecy in their home. The Captain has protected so many but has, perhaps, shielded her daughter too much. 
Suspenseful moments throughout as the five - Marzana, Nialla, J.J, Ciro, Meddy - work together. They have truly become a team (Thief Knot) by the end of the story. 
It will be interesting to see what further adventures await this team.
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If you haven't read the previous Greenglass books, it's ok - this is almost a standalone.  There's wordplay, adventure, some mystery and a bookstore as a headquarters for the Thief Knot (the name that Marzana gives her group of crime solvers).  Mars' social anxiety is so well depicted that readers who sometimes feel equally awkward will realize that they're not so strange after all.  There's also a good description of friendships that drift apart, and how that can make the one left behind feel.  I want to spend more time in the Belowground and the mysterious glass-and-radioactive tea shop/museum!  Charming addition to the series - more, please.

eARC provided by publisher.
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This action packed mystery set in the amazing Greenglass House world does not disappoint. Hoping to see it as an audiobook as well like others in the series. 

I highly recommend reading the rest of the Greenglass House books by Milford. This latest instalment is a great continuation that proves it is a rich source of inspiration to Ms Milford.
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I loved this book. The story was well-written and the characters were wonderful. All the way through the book, there were plot twists and cleverly thought-out adventures. Just when I thought I knew what was about to happen, there was another twist. I enjoyed this book from start to finish and would certainly adopt this as a class text and will definitely recommend it to my students. Well done!
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