- Alisa Williams
The Girl in the Witch’s Garden by Erin Bowman – Book Review
I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. The Girl in the Witch’s Garden is a middle-grade fantasy about Piper, a girl whose father is dying of cancer. She loves her father, who is really the only person in the world she has. Piper’s mother abandoned them when she was young, but with her father’s cancer getting worse, she’s sent to live with her and her grandmother at Mallory Estate, her grandmother’s home. Neighbors are convinced Piper’s grandmother is a witch and that the house and especially the garden is magical, but Piper absolutely does not believe in magic. She believes in science and facts and evidence.
But all that changes when she arrives at Mallory Estate and meets a group of kids her mother is fostering who all have special – magical – abilities. This stings a lot, not only because her mother abandoned her and then turned around to raise a group of foster children, but because the reason her mother abandoned her was to research the magic of Mallory Estate. Now Piper’s mom has crafted this whole new family, surrounded by “better” children who can help her in her quest. And worse still, Piper’s mom seems completely disinterested in reuniting with her own daughter. If fact, she acts like Piper is underfoot, especially because Piper doesn’t have any magical abilities of her own. Or does she?
This book dealt with some really dark themes, specifically the death of a parent and parental neglect, abandonment, and abuse. I though these were handled appropriately for the age group. The cover of the book threw me, because, while absolutely beautiful, it gives the impression that this is going to be a light-hearted whimsical read. And it is definitely not that.
The book has some great Harry Potter and Miss Peregrine vibes which I loved. Mallory Estate is a character onto itself, and a fantastic one at that. The author, Erin Bowman, did a superb job crafting an enchanting world that I completely fell into, and I was rooting for Piper from the start. I really hope there’s a sequel — or better yet a series — about Piper and the rest of the magical kids. The ending was open ended enough to leave room for that.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. It was simply wonderful.
This review originally appeared on NetGalley. I received a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review of this title.
Alisa Williams is the managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org. She blogs at alisawilliamswrites.com, tweets at @AWWritesStories, and bookstagrams at @AllyWritesStories.
Book cover image courtesy of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.