THE SISTERS OF STRAYGARDEN PLACE, by Hayley Chewins, Candlewick, Oct. 13, 2020, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 10 and up)
If you’re looking for a hair-raising read entering the Halloween season, The Sisters of Straygarden Place, by Haley Chewins, is a great option. This upper-middle-grade fantasy about sisters stuck in enchanted house is sure to give you just a bit of the willies.
Seven years ago, the Ballastian sisters’ parents left them in the magical Straygarden Place, a house surrounded by tall silver grass and floating trees. They left behind a warning saying never to leave the house or go into the grass. “Wait for us,” the note read. “Sleep darkly.”
Ever since then, the house itself has taken care of Winnow, Mayhap, and Pavonine — feeding them, clothing them, even keeping them company — while the girls have waited and grown up and played a guessing game: Think of an animal, think of a place. Think of a person, think of a face. Until one day, when the eldest, 14-year-old Winnow, does the unthinkable and goes outside into the grass, and everything 12-year-old Mayhap thought she knew about her home, her family, and even herself starts to unravel.
Author Hayley Chewins transports readers to a house where beloved little dogs crawl into their owners’ minds to sleep, sick girls turn silver, and anything can be stolen — even laughter and silence. —Synopsis provided by Candlewick
The Sisters of Straygarden Place is one of the most unexpected novels I’ve read this year. While I planned for mystery and suspense, it’s the sense of surrealistic dread wrapped in a dreamy overtone that took me by surprise.
Chewins’ lyrical prose sets the tone from the start and continues throughout this engrossing read. There’s a sense of urgency to her writing that pushes the story and the reader forward at a fairly unrelenting pace. I didn’t want to put the book down and finished it a few hours.
There are a number of twists throughout the book that are well placed and unpredictable. Mayhap is a strong character that reader’s will want to embrace.
The Sisters of Straygarden Place is a fantastic option for readers ages 10 and up.
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