Eden’s Everdark

S. & S. Sept. 2022. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665904476.
Gr 3-6–After Eden’s mother dies, she travels with her father to Safina Island, GA, to meet her mother’s family. Eden’s ancestors were enslaved people from the Civil War era who cultivated cotton and sugar cane. After the war, the Gardner family stayed for generations, but Eden and her family have never visited. Eden’s mother left the island when she was Eden’s age, 12, never to return, though she carried forth the gardening gene, becoming a botanist and professor. When Eden finds her mother’s childhood sketchbooks containing island flowers, marshland plants, and animals, she is intrigued. One sketchbook looks to be a dark mirror of Safina Island, with a monster-like dog, a black cat lurking, and stormy oceans and dark skies. Children drawn have deep indigo skin with tiny silver stars, and mouths frozen into eternal screams. A woman drawn is the “Witch of Everdark,” and when Aunt Susanna tells Eden her mother created this spirit world from her dreams, Eden feels pulled to discover the truth behind her own nightmares. Eden finds a path into Everdark and, upon entering, realizes there is no way out, and that the witch wishes to claim her spirit. With stunningly descriptive prose, Strong has created two worlds, both Safina Island and the spirit world that entraps Eden. Eden must face her grief bravely, while holding tight to her family and their roots.
VERDICT Darkly suspenseful; both readers of fantasy and those looking for a creepy, ghostly tale will find much to keep them rooted in this electric novel.

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