cover image The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book (Greenglass House)

The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book (Greenglass House)

Kate Milford, illus. by Nicole Wong. Clarion, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-328-46690-7

As rain and the Skidwrack River’s rising make “new rivers that had once been roads,” 15 stranded individuals alternately spin stories in this deliciously folkloric, carefully plotted compilation that has roots in—and similarities to—Milford’s Greenglass House. Interspersed with interludes in the Blue Vein Tavern and bearing repeating references and themes, the individual stories focus on “peddlers, tricksters, gamblers, and lovers”; keys, maps, and portals; and roads of ice and of old. In the moments between the tellings, the inclusive array of worldly and otherworldly guests—brothers with facial tattoos, a shawl-swathed woman, a child traveling solo—and the tavern’s staff rotate across a great room’s stage, manipulating physical objects (cards, an hourglass, whittled animals, music boxes) and engaging in continual patterns of movement (bookbinding, dancing, firekeeping). At once a deeply satisfying standalone and a smart addition to Milford’s expansive world, this elegant feat of telescopic storytelling serves as both map and key, offering singular stories of consequence that slowly, artfully reveal an immersive mystery—one that will dazzle seasoned Milford fans and kindle new ones. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Feb.) [/em]