Elizabeth and Zenobia

4 CDs. 4:25 hrs. Tantor. Sept. 2017. $34.99. ISBN 9781541411968. digital download.
Gr 4–7—After Elizabeth's mother runs off, Elizabeth's botanically inclined father takes her along in a retreat to his childhood home of Witheringe House, a many-roomed mansion on a fog-shrouded green, with an atmosphere that emphasizes the "wither" in its name. Elizabeth's invisible friend, Zenobia, is excited by the change in location: she's always preferred dead trees in a landscape. The possibility that spirits may inhabit the house makes it more enticing to Zenobia, if not to Elizabeth. With Mrs. Purswell keeping house, and Miss Clemency for a tutor, Elizabeth, urged on by Zenobia, still finds time to explore for spirit presence. The story is delightfully creepy, with flickering candles, an amateur séance, a tumbledown gardener's shack, a missing aunt, and wallpaper with a mind of its own. Shiromi Arserio narrates with a gentle English accent, adding just enough petulance to Zenobia's tone when Elizabeth hesitates at entering Witheringe's forbidden East Wing. The black-and-white illustrations channel the spirit of Edward Gorey and are included as a PDF with the audiobook.
VERDICT Just the right mix of mysterious and creepy for those not quite ready for Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Consider for most middle school collections.

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