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The House in Poplar Wood

Narrated by: Brian Holden
Length: 6 hrs and 53 mins
Categories: Kids, Ages 8-10
4.5 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For as long as the Vickery twins can remember, they’ve only ever been able to leave the house together once a year, on Halloween. The rest of the year, Lee and his mother serve Memory while Felix and his father assist Death. This is the Agreement.  

But one Halloween, Gretchen Whipple smashes her way into their lives. Her bargain is simple: If the twins help her solve the murder of local girl Essie Hasting, she’ll help them break the Agreement. The more the three investigate, however, the more they realize that something’s gone terribly wrong in their town. Death is on the loose, and if history repeats itself, Essie’s might not be the last murder in Poplar Wood.  

Simultaneously heartwarming and delightfully spooky, The House in Poplar Wood is the story about a boy’s desire to be free, a girl’s desire to make a difference, and a family’s desire to be together again.

©2018 Kathryn Ormsbee (P)2018 Kathryn Ormsbee

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Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent performance of a poetic book

This book was lovely all the way through. I loved Brian Holden's understated accents- We know we're in Kentucky but we aren't punched in the face with the fact- (being from the South I appreciated a more accurate drawl). I also loved that he didn't take away from the story by being overly dramatic. He lets the story lead and has memorable character voices.
The story is a fantastic look at challenging expectations and the status quo. I loved the partnerships, the imagery, and the characters. Definitely a unique world built by K E Ormsbee!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Original mythology in a small town setting

This book is a wonderfully original mythology set in a small community. Given that the material can sometimes be dark (for example, Death is a character), the author finds a way to balance the macabre with bright, compelling characters and a through line of love (both romantic and familial). It’s also a page-turning mystery, which is why I finished this audiobook in only 3 days!

Brian Holden is a fantastic narrator. I could listen to him read the dictionary and I’d be on the edge of my seat. He makes the story even more compelling through his dynamic narration and handles the character voices with believable and consistent choices.

For anyone who is a fan of original mythologies, small town settings with compelling characters, and mysteries (Neil Gaiman fans!) this a must-read!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Exceptional performance!

Brian Holden truly brings this book to life! His ability to conjure each character is masterful and evokes intrigue and unique depth to this story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very entertaining

This was an interesting book. A family lives in Poplar Wood, the house divided into two sections. A father and his son live on one side and serve Death; a mother and her son live on the other side and serves Memory. Only the boys can see each other. The mother can't see the man and the boy, and the father can't see the mother and the boy. The boys are able to see the adult they live with.  

Down in the town, no one knows the boy who serves Death, he doesn't go to school.  The two boys, Lee and Felix are trying to change the situation they are in, created by Death and Memory as an Agreement because the man and woman, their apprentices, fell in love. 

In the town, we learn of a young girl, daughter of the mayor. This family are Summoners. The young girl, Gretchen, is trying to solve the mystery of the death of a classmate, Essie, and railing against being the second born child, thus, supposedly, having no chance of being a Summoner herself. 

Can these three unlikely cohorts learn what is going on in their town and stop it and at the same time break the Agreement so a family can be a family?

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Unique and Captivating Story

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book starts out on Halloween -- but this is not a Halloween book per se and you can enjoy it anytime of year -- and you should. While this book is geared towards YA, I think it can be enjoyed by adults as well.

It is a really unique story about twin boys who are forced to live in the same house with their parents but, their Mother and Father can't see each other and the twin boys only see each other on Halloween all because their parents wrongfully fell in love and were punished by the Shades. The boys know that as their parents work for the Shades, they too, much to their chagrin, are expected to work for the Shades. So, when Elsie, who works for Passion, is murdered and Mayor Whipple is covering it up - his daughter Gretchen wants to know why. As she investigates, she becomes involved with the twins. Was Elsie murdered? If so, why is Mayor Whipple covering it all up? Can the twins unite with their parents?

This is a unique story which captivated me from the beginning. The murder mystery, use of magic, and the Shades all existing in a small community really held my attention and I did not want to put it down.

The narrator, Brian Holden, did a fantastic job. His narration added to the story and the mystique.

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Wrong target audience

I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. Sorry for the low rating, but I’m not the right audience for this genre or age group of a book, so the story made no sense to me.
The narrator did a great job and read the story well. I may enjoy more by this narrator , but not more of this genre. I don’t do Fantasy , am a much older reader than this would target , so please consider that when purchasing.

0 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • bluepits73
  • 12-18-18

Unique Idea

The concept of death and memory as Shades is completely unique to me and I found it fascinating that the author was able to capture them as actual characters. This is a well written piece from the view points of a few 13 year old kids who interact with the shades. Well written interesting concept and I enjoyed the story.

The narrator did a great job in this performance. I like that he sounded young enough to bring these characters to life but was not so young that he sounds like a child. When the characters are in their teens, it seems like it's harder for narrators to capture their age; this narrator was able to do a good job with that. The narrator stayed consistent and distinguished voices well.

I received a review copy at my request and have voluntarily left this unbiased review.

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  • Raven
  • 11-24-18

An interesting plot

This is the story of two young brothers who are apprentices to "shades". The shades are Memory and Death. A murder happens in the town where they live and one brother finds himself pulled into investigating the crime by a member of a rival family. There are also other sub plots within the book which tie in nicely. All in all, it was quite enjoyable. I liked most of the main characters and the plot(s) went along nicely to a satisfying conclusion. The production and narration were both very good. Each character was given their own voice, which worked well. I was supplied with a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-21-18

Great story!

Brilliantly written and read, Brian's accents were consistent and perfect for each character. Highly recommend.