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The House in Poplar Wood: 07/10/20

The House in Poplar Wood

The House in Poplar Wood by K.E. Ormsbee is a middle grade horror that brings to mind the Death of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, except that this is Earth and there are more than Death. Also there are two other types of fates working to control human destiny. They can't, though, work directly on humanity, they need a human to do the actual one on one interactions.

Felix and Lee, twin boys, live in a divided house in Poplar Wood. While they can see each other, they can only see one parent each. Before they were born, their parents broke a taboo, the apprentice to Memory fell in love with the apprentice to Death. Death and Memory hate each other and are now forced to reside in the same house. So they've made the Agreement and that's what keeps the family separate.

Add into the mix, the daughter of Mayor who feels slighted because she's not being taught the family magic. When a girl ends up dead before her time, Gretchen decides to prove that Death broke the rules, essentially murdering her.

Although this book is built on a simple three-way concept for how personifications of supernatural forces can work with humanity, Ormsbee goes the distance to expand the ramifications of such a set up across a larger scale than the book itself. I like that there are different versions of each of the Fates and different interpretations of the rules. Some are better bosses than others, and the ones in Poplar Wood are corrupted, twisted versions.

This novel also falls onto the road narrative spectrum.

Felix and Lee are sibling travelers, as are Gretchen and her brother. Sometimes the four work together and sometimes they work in different types of teams. Through out all of this, there are two sets of siblings (CC) both traveling to a common destination.

The destination is uhoria (CC). It's uhoria in the sense that Felix and Lee want to get to a pre-Agreement time. Gretchen wants to understand what happened to the dead girl. Both solutions lie in understanding the past of the area and how the rules were first written, the ones before the Agreement.

The route is offroad (66), namely through the woods. The woods are how the children get to and from the town. It's where the clues lie for understanding the girl's death.

Altogether The House in Poplar Woods is the tale of siblings who are traveling to uhoria through an offroad route (CCCC66).

Five stars

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