THE GIRL AND THE WITCH’S GARDEN
Written by Erin Bowman
Simon & Schuster BYR 6/23/2020
276 Pages Age 8—12
. . . . . DEBUT
Genre: Middle Grade Book, Fantasy
Themes: Friendships, Magic, Hope
Mallory Estate is the last place twelve-year-old Piper Peavey wants to spend her summer vacation.
The grounds are always cold, the garden out back is dead, a mysterious group of children call the property home, and there’s a rumor that Melena M. Mallory—the owner of the estate and Piper’s wealthy grandmother—is a witch.
But when Piper’s father falls ill, Mallory Estate is exactly where Piper finds herself.
The grand house and its garden hold many secrets—some of which may even help save her father—and Piper will need to believe in herself, her new friends, and magic if she wants to unlock them before it’s too late. (from book jacket)
“There was no denying that a witch lived at Mallory Estate.”
Why I like The Girl and the Witch’s Garden
The Girl and the Witch’s Garden is a mystery, a fantasy, and a magical adventure all wrapped into one amazing story. Piper’s father is dying. As he enters the hospital for a new round of radiation, Atticus does not want his precious daughter spending day-after-day by his side. Instead, Piper Peavey will spend her summer vacation with her grandmother and estranged mother at Mallory Estate; a odd mansion with a dead garden and an always cold atmosphere.
Sophia Peavey abandoned her daughter Piper, and divorced husband Atticus, when Piper was merely four-years-old. Sophia returned to Mallory Estate. Since then, she has rarely spoken to or seen Piper, as if the girl no longer exists. Now twelve-years-old, imagine Piper’s surprise, and pain, to find her mother’s foster children—all about Piper’s age—living at grandmother Malena’s Mallory Estate.
The children, Julius, Kenji, and Camilla all think Sophia is great and much different than the rude and demanding person who seems to hate her own child. But then, there is something odd about these children—each possess an affinity. Julius’ affinity is sight. He uses an amplifier (a spyglass), that strengthens his affinity. Kenji’s affinity is teleportation, while Camilla can transform objects. Julius claims to have seen Piper’s affinity. Piper thinks the entire affair is either a bunch of tricks or a big prank. Still, the hidden elixir interests her—it could save Atticus’ life . . . and give him immortality.
There is one additional character, a white Persian cat named Wolfe. Wolfe tends to appear whenever one of the children is someplace in the estate they are not to be. Soon after, Sophia shows up, as if the cat has warned her of the errant child. The Persian also looks like it is interested in and completely absorbed by conversations it can overhear.
The Girl and the Witch’s Garden features believable magic—affinities and amplifiers. As Piper slowly adapts to magic being real, she becomes determined to find the hidden Elixir of Immortality. To get her hands on it, she must find a way into the garden’s past. This mean finding a hidden portal that will transport her to the garden’s past—to the time when the Magical Council hid the elixir to keep it safe. Then, she must complete magical tests; no one could even know how to study for these tests.
The story is full of magic, adventure, and conflict. Piper does not want to share the discovery of the elixir, should she find it. Without it, the kids will not be adopted. Piper decides not to tell the others about her father and why she desperately needs the elixir. The kids demand honesty between them, as they have had little of it in the past and they are determined to change their lives for the better.
Middle grade kids, and adults who like MG books, will find The Girl and the Witch’s Garden intriguing. The characters are well-developed, including Wolfe, the curious white Persian cat that seems to spies on the children. The magic is believable, as is the story as a whole. It kept me reading well into the night when I should have been occupying my bed, but wasn’t. The final scenes will keep readers on the edge of their seats. They will learn things are not always what they seem to be. A real witch will fly in on a broom to wreak havoc amongst the others, who must finally work together to survive.
The Girl and the Witch’s Garden is a must-read for anyone who likes magical stories, stories about friendships, or stories about estranged families needing to find their way back to a strong unit. Mostly, The Girl and the Witch’s Garden is about Piper Peavey’s adventure to save her father from a certain death, learning to get along with her estranged mother, and finding a way to love her mother as she did when a very young child.
You will not be disappointed spending time with Piper Peavey and the other characters, as they search for the complicatedly hidden (by magic), Elixir of Immortality. Online, bookstore, library, friend . . . make sure you use one of these methods to grab a copy of Erin Bowman’s middle grade debut, The Girl and the Witch’s Garden. It’s a Kids Lit Review Best Book of 2020!
Discussion Guide Found (click) HERE.
To Learn More About the Author, Erin Bowman: https://embowman.com/
Available at Amazon: The Girl and the Witch’s Garden
THE GIRL AND THE WITCH’S GARDEN. Copyright © 2020 by Erin Bowman. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, NY.
Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
[723-word count—review only]
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NEXT UP: PB – The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t by Artie Bennett & Dave Szalay – North South Books
AND THEN: MG – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. (50th Anniversary Special Edition) by Judy Blume – Atheneum Books for Young Readers