Puzzleheart | Jenn Reese


Coming May 14, 2024, from Henry Holt and Co.; 272 pages.

Content Warning: Intense action sequences, grieving, depression, panic attacks, discussion of

About the Author: “Jenn Reese (they/she) writes speculative fiction for readers of all ages. Jenn
is the author of Puzzleheart, Every Bird a Prince, the Oregon Book Award-winning A Game of
Fox & Squirrels
, and the Above World trilogy. They also write short stories for teens and adults.
Jenn lives in Portland, Oregon where they make art, play video games, and build cardboard forts
for their cats” (Bio from the author).

Find Jenn Reese on the following platforms:

“Fixing was for houses. Solving was for puzzles. Maybe neither of those words applied to people.”

Twelve-year-old Perigee has been hearing stories about their dad’s childhood in the Eklund Puzzle House since they were old enough to understand. Perigee’s grandparents built and designed the house to be an escape room-themed bed and breakfast with unique challenges for patrons to solve during their stay. In a last-ditch effort to “solve” their dad, who seems unhappy, Perigee orchestrates a trip to the Puzzle House, which involves meeting their estranged grandmother for the first time. However, everything is different than Perigee planned when they arrive—from a cold and distant grandma to a house that is literally tearing itself apart. With the help of Lily, the daughter of their grandma’s friend, Perigee must solve the house’s remaining puzzles despite their grandma’s protests. With their work already cut out for them, can Perigee figure out how to cure their dad—and possibly even themself—along the way?

Puzzleheart offers readers a little bit of everything: mystery, family drama, adventure, and magic. I really like how immersive the puzzles Perigee and Lily solve throughout the book are. The included drawings and detailed narration allow readers to actively participate and be a part of the action. Similarly, author Jenn Reese doesn’t shy away from the more intense aspects of dangerous situations, including panic and injury. Some of the safety protocols and the emphasis on staying calm and vigilant during stressful situations could be useful to readers. I appreciated the perseverance displayed throughout, as well as seeing a parent empower their child to succeed. However, the true star of the show was Perigee’s grandmother, Savannah Ekland. Since the death of her beloved husband, the Puzzle House has been in disarray, and Savannah lost who she was and won’t let herself enjoy the things she used to. Her journey is captivating, and I think we can all take something away from the sentiment that when someone we love dies, it doesn’t mean everything we love is lost with them. The exploration of whether it is the parent or the child (or both) who care for one another’s mental well-being was also touching. Meanwhile, personifying the Puzzle House by including chapters written from its perspective successfully added a touch of magic to keep the narrative lighthearted. Puzzleheart is the perfect read for those who love solving puzzles and watching the pieces click together to mend damaged souls.

Puzzleheart releases on May 14, 2024

Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and Henry Holt and Co. for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.

Emilee Ceuninck, Pine Reads Review Lead Writer


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