published: 5th March 2020
FIVE EXTRAORDINARY ORPHANS. ONE INCREDIBLE MYSTERY. UNLOCK THE SECRETS OF THE WINTERBORNE HOME FOR VENGENACE AND VALOUR.
When 11-year-old April joins a group of kids living at Winterborne Home she doesn’t expect to be there for very long. But she soon learns that this home isn’t like any of the others – especially when she unearths the secret of the missing-and-presumed-dead billionaire, Gabriel Winterborne, who is neither missing nor dead but is actually living in a basement lair, sharpening his swords and looking for vengeance.
Now that April knows Gabriel Winterborne is alive, she must turn to the other orphans to keep him that way. As a looming new danger threatens to take Gabriel down once and for all, they must use their individual talents to find a way to make sure this home for misfits isn’t lost to them for ever.
Because at the Winterborne Home, nothing is what it seems, no one is who they say they are and nowhere is safe. And now a ragtag group of orphans must unravel the riddle of a missing heir, a supposed phantom and a secret key, all without alerting the adults of Winterborne House that trouble is afoot.
Galley provided by publisher
It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is probably hands-down my favourite Ally Carter book ever. Yes, even better than Gallagher Girls and Heist Society. It contains all the best tropes (found family, a recluse adopting a group of orphans – or should I say being adopted by them, the FOUND FAMILY). I don’t care this is middle grade I’m buying a copy for everyone I know and forcing them to read it.
Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour follows April, and orphan whose sole clue to her mother’s identity is a small key marked with the Winterborne crest (not that she knows this at this point). When April is caught up in the arson of a museum displaying the Winterbornes’ collection, she is whisked away to join four other children living at the Winterborne Home. There, she discovers that the long-lost-presumed-dead heir to the Winterborne fortune is actually alive, but out for revenge.
Ally Carter is great at two things in her books: characters and action/mystery. And this one is no different. We are introduced to a cast of characters you can’t help but fall in love with (particularly the five children, though Gabriel comes close). You will be rooting for them from the first page. And the relationships they develop are god-tier relationships, especially the one they all share with Gabriel Winterborne (think like Batman and the Robins but even more reluctant on Gabriel’s part). They’re the kind of characters and relationships you don’t want to part with by the end of the book.
But it’s not just a character-driven story. There’s also a mystery going on at the same time (a number of mysteries, to be honest). And, yeah, it’s a less complex mystery than in any of Ally Carter’s other books, because it’s middle grade, but the adventures the orphans get up to in defense of Gabriel are just as exciting.
So basically, if you only read one single book in all of 2020, let it be this one.