Wednesday 27 January 2021

The Ghost Garden by Emma Carroll Book Review

 It has been a little while since I mentioned a lovely Barrington Stoke book.

Today I have a review for Emma Carroll's debut book with these fantastic publishers. The Ghost Garden is a tale of childhood on the brink of war. A delightful piece of historical fiction, perfect for young readers. 

My eight year old was going to be the one reading this and she chose to read it for her school reading book - see what she thought later in this post.

Summer 1914

When Fran uncovers a bone in the garden of Longbarrow House on the same afternoon that Leo breaks his leg, it is just the first in a series of strange and unsettling coincidences.

Leo is left wheelchair bound for the rest of the summer and Fran is roped into keep him company, forced to listen to his foolish theories about the looming threat of war.

Suddenly the garden she has loved all her life seems to hold threatening shadows of the future, and Fran starts to fear what she and Leo might find next ...

Fran - our protagonist - is a little girl who works alongside her father during the summer holidays in the gardens of Longbarrow House. Her normal days are suddenly changed when the grandchildren of the owner of Longbarrow (Mrs Walker) come to spend their summer holidays at the house. 

It's fairly obvious in the beginning that Fran doesn't really like the Walker children very much. I think is probably more because she is a girl who is used to being alone. 

One seemingly usual day, Fran discovers a strange bone in the potato patch, accidentally breaking it with her gardening fork, on that very same day Leo Walker is injured by his younger sister, unfortunately leaving him with a broken leg.

Coincidence, perhaps.

Secrets are unearthed as war looms in Emma Carroll's Barrington Stoke debut.

After Leo breaks his leg, Fran gets roped into helping Leo around, who is now stuck in a wheelchair whilst his leg heals, she discovers that Leo believes their might be an ancient burial mound on the property.

Could this have anything to do with the bones Fran has found and the strange occurences that she has been experiencing lately? 

Set during the summer of 1914, a time when tensions were  building in Europe, a time when much of Britain were looking at the prospect of having to send men off to fight in WW1 and quite possibly die whilst trying. 

Emma manages to weave in the threat of this looming war whilst telling Fran and Leo's story. It was an impressive snippet of what things might well have been like back then. Not an easy thing to show in shorter tales.

Here's what my eight year old had to say about the book:

I learnt about the phrase don't judge a book by its cover in R.E. recently and when I first saw the cover of this book I thought it looked a bit boring (sorry I judged) but when I started reading and dug a bit deeper into the story, it got more interesting and by the end I found it really cool. I'd definitely tell my friends to read it and try it out for themselves.

The Ghost Garden is a thrilling tale brimming with mystery and intrigue which offers an insight into childhood surrounding WW1.

I really liked Fran and Leo's budding friendship. It was unlikely and I think that's what made it all the more authentic. They actually complimented each other, almost like opposites attract. 

The Ghost Garden is eerie and thrilling. Carroll does a fantastic job of setting the scene and building atmosphere. 

This is a novella so the story is fairly short but it isn't rushed or left without detail. With well rounded characters and exceptional descriptions, this tale is rather compelling. Making it an ideal book to get children more excited about the genre of historical fiction.

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