The Sisters of Straygarden Place

Candlewick. Sept. 2020. 208p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536212273.
Gr 4-6–Mayhap Ballastian and her sisters Winnow and Pavonine have been trapped in Straygarden Place since their parents disappeared several years earlier. Luckily, the house takes care of everything the sisters need, providing meals on demand and droomhunds to darken their sleep and keep them company. It isn’t safe to go outside the tall magical grasses surrounding the house—but one terrible day, Winnow goes wandering in the grasses anyway. From that point forward, everything that the sisters knew to be true starts to unravel as Mayhap must save her family and herself. Along the way, she meets the Mysteriessa of Straygarden Place, who claims to use magic to take care of the house and the Ballastians...but can she be trusted? The magic of Straygarden Place is dreamy and imbued with dread, providing a strong setting for Mayhap’s trials. Though at times the surreality of the world makes it hard to follow, the plot and characters are engaging enough to make up for it.
VERDICT A strong opening and consistent sense of urgency makes this an ideal choice for reluctant readers interested in slightly spooky fantasy. Give to fans of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, Kenneth Oppel’s The Nest, or The House in Poplar Wood by K.E. Ormsbee.

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