Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Return to the Secret Garden
Author: Holly Webb
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Pages: Hardcover; 240
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Source: Edelweiss / Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note!
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who loved The Secret Garden, or who want to share this new chapter with their little ones!
It's 1939, and the occupants of the Craven Home for Orphaned Children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall, a fancy manor in the English countryside, to escape the Blitz. Emmie would hardly call the orphanage "home," but her heart breaks knowing that leaving Craven means leaving her beloved cat, Lucy. Away from everything she's ever known and trapped in imposing Misselthwaite, Emmie finds herself more miserable than ever.
But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house-a boy who cries in the night, a diary written by a girl named Mary, and a garden. A very secret garden…
Since I've yet to finish a book yet this year, I thought it was a good time to go ahead and work on the reviews that I never had a chance to post last year. Which, especially in the case of Return to the Secret Garden, is a shame. This book was absolutely adorable, and I wish I'd been on top of my reviews enough to give it the pre-release love that it deserved. On the bright side, hopefully I'm reminding some of you out there of its existence, and it will scoot up your reading lists after this review.
First off, I feel it's only fair to explain to you that the original book is one of my all time favorites. Coupled with that, is the fact that Holly Webb is one of my all time favorite Middle Grade writers. So, you can easily see that my expectations were high here. I was so thrilled that the sequel to my favorite book would be done by one of my favorite authors. It doesn't get any more perfect than that! I was so eager to make my way back to Misselthwaite, and explore it with new eyes. I'm happy to say, I wasn't disappointed.
Much like the Mary we remember, Emmie is a little tough to love at first. An orphan, Emmie is used to mainly caring for herself and is, as such, a bit distant. Still, I could tell right away that she was a spitfire at heart. Her deep thoughts, her love for her adopted stray cat, all of it pulled me in to her world. It wasn't obvious early on how she would be tied in to the Misselthwaite of old, but I knew she'd fit in just wonderfully.
As it turns out, I was right. The backdrop of this book is the Blitz and it sets the stage expertly for Emmie's transition to her new home. I loved watching her go through the same kinds of feelings as her predecessor. It was that moment when she stepped into the garden though, that really had me rapt. Holly Webb evoked that same magic, the same air of sweet mystery, that the original book so wonderfully had. I ate it up. Even if the original characters hadn't been tied into this, which they absolutely are, I would have been happy just with this small piece of my childhood restored. Stepping back into the secret garden with new eyes was a wonderful feeling.
Truth be told, I really wanted to give this five stars. It was missing this small something that I couldn't fit my finger on though, and so I settled with four. It's really a fabulous book though, and I highly recommend it as an addition to your TBR! Emmie will steal your heart and, if she doesn't succeed alone, so will your new trip into the secret garden.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.