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Ghosts of Greenglass House: 02/02/18

Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford is the second of the Greenglass House series and another feature on an impossible map that she has been building throughout her writing career, though it probably began to first come together with The Kairos Mechanism in 2012 (review coming). Maybe too it was The Broken Lands (2012) which served as a prequel to The Boneshaker.

The Greenglass House series is about a house which cannot be drawn existing on the edge of a town that cannot be mapped. Nagspeake brings to mind Nags Head — in North Carolina — but the icy winter and the heavy forest brings to mind Maine or even coastal Canada. Nagspeake, is a paper town, existing outside of reality but still being pinned to an address in Google Maps. The map leads to an defunct but still up blog. A Whois search brings up the fact that it's owned by Milford's husband.

I bring all this up because Ghosts of Greenglass House is about maps and navigation. George and Clem had done one last caper to retrieve an adjustable map — a derroterro — made by Nagspeake's most famous runner and cartographer. Nagspeake — a strange city state living in the present but in a sort of Edwardian bubble — well aware of the United States but outside of it — has only one allowed maker and seller of maps: Deacon and Morvengarde. Furthermore, Deacon and Morvengarde act as the governing body or have bribed the local government to make a very cozy arrangement. But now let's think of what else they could be. There's a throw away line on page 359 that if taken literally puts Nagspeake into sharper focus: "'You wouldn't believe some of the adventures I've been on trying to make deliveries when I've been stuck with a D and M map.'" Take out that "and" and it becomes "when I've been stuck with a DM map" or dungeon master.

As established in The Greenglass House, roleplaying is a big part of Nagspeake culture (or it was thirty years ago but has been rediscovered by Milo with the help of 'Meddy'). Much of the Greenglass House adventures and sleuthing are done through the perspective of Milo's alter egos — his gaming characters.

More domestically, The Ghosts of Greenglass House is a chance for Milo to reunite 'Meddy' and her father. They are two of the ghosts of Greenglass House but there are others that Milo et al will interact with.

Once again the story is set against the backdrop of Christmas Vacation. Milo is stuck sharing the holiday with unexpected and unwelcome visitors (the downside of having parents who run an inn). This year though winter proper seems to be holdings its breath, waiting for everyone to leave before it begins. There is only frost, no snow.

But here's the thing — everything we know of Nagspeake and neighboring Liberty — is informed through testimony by visitors or from stories they or Milo tell. Even if these characters are part of some greater beings' campaign, I want a chance to walk the streets of Naspeake. I want to experience its changeability and fickleness in modern day. I want to see Greenglass house in another season.

Regardless of what I want, there is a third book in the works. Bluecrown: A Greenglass House story (not to be confused, I guess with Bluecrowne the second of the Arcana books. (Which takes place in Nagspeake).

So while I wait for Bluecrown 2018, I will be reading through the older books of Milford that I have so far missed.

Five stars

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