Author: Tania Unsworth
Published: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Alonquin Young Readers
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery
Source: Goodreads Giveaway!
Daisy Fitzjohn knows there are two worlds: the outside world and the world of Brightwood Hall, her home–and the only place she’s ever been. Daisy and her mother have everything they need within its magnificent, half-ruined walls. They may not have a computer or phone, but Daisy has all the friends she could want, including a mischievous talking rat named Tar and the ghostly presence of a long-ago explorer who calls herself Frank.
When Daisy’s mother leaves one morning, a strange visitor arrives on the estate, claiming to be a distant cousin, James Gritting. But as the days tick by and Daisy’s mother doesn’t return, Gritting becomes more and more menacing. He wants Brightwood for himself, and he will do anything to get it, unless Daisy, with only her imaginary companions to help her, can stop him. (Goodreads)
My rating: 4 stars
It was lovely. Definitely recommend.
I was lucky enough to win an advance reading copy (ARC) of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
Brightwood is a little creepy and a lot heartwarming.
Daisy is a sweet, but very weird girl. That’s not unexpected considering the life she’s lived, secluded in a rundown mansion with a mom who refuses to allow her any interaction with the outside world. Daisy is kind and smart and learns a lot during the story — including her own capabilities and how to assess risk, analyze her fears, and take care of herself. She gathers clues and solves the mystery of what happened to her mom and family, and figures out who Gritting is and what he’s willing to do. To do this, interacts with a lot of imaginary friends, which comes off cute and a little strange.
Brightwood is a creepy sounding place, but Daisy’s affection for it is clear. She knows it inside out and the descriptions of her travels through the nooks and crannies of the estate are intriguing (although a little confusing at times). When Gritting shows up, the creep-factor skyrockets. Especially since Daisy is a little girl who is all alone and has never interacted with another human being other than her mom.
The story moves a little slowly, and may be too slow for some young readers. It might move a little faster if it is read aloud rather than as a silent reading book. It does include quite a bit of death, including some murder/attempted murder. But, the ending is strong and sweet and, in true middle grade fashion, all ends up good and happy.
I’ve seen some reviews compare this book to the vibe of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline – I think that’s spot on!