Cover Image: The Girl and the Witch's Garden

The Girl and the Witch's Garden

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Member Reviews

I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. The Girl in the Witch’s Garden is a middle-grade fantasy about Piper, a girl whose father is dying of cancer. She loves her father, who is really the only person in the world she has. Piper’s mother abandoned them when she was young, but with her father’s cancer getting worse, she’s sent to live with her and her grandmother at Mallory Estate, her grandmother’s home. Neighbors are convinced Piper’s grandmother is a witch and that the house and especially the garden is magical, but Piper absolutely does not believe in magic. She believes in science and facts and evidence. 

But all that changes when she arrives at Mallory Estate and meets a group of kids her mother is fostering who all have special – magical – abilities. This stings a lot, not only because her mother abandoned her and then turned around to raise a group of foster children, but because the reason her mother abandoned her was to research the magic of Mallory Estate. Now Piper’s mom has crafted this whole new family, surrounded by “better” children who can help her in her quest. And worse still, Piper’s mom seems completely disinterested in reuniting with her own daughter. If fact, she acts like Piper is underfoot, especially because Piper doesn’t have any magical abilities of her own. Or does she?

This book dealt with some really dark themes, specifically the death of a parent and parental neglect, abandonment, and abuse. I though these were handled appropriately for the age group. The cover of the book threw me, because, while absolutely beautiful, it gives the impression that this is going to be a light-hearted whimsical read. And it is definitely not that.

The book has some great Harry Potter and Miss Peregrine vibes which I loved. Mallory Estate is a character onto itself, and a fantastic one at that. The author, Erin Bowman, did a superb job crafting an enchanting world that I completely fell into, and I was rooting for Piper from the start. I really hope there’s a sequel — or better yet a series — about Piper and the rest of the magical kids. The ending was open ended enough to leave room for that. 

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It was simply wonderful.
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As far as fantasy goes, this book was well written and a good concept, but the characters felt rather flat and boring and the plot didn't offer much that was fresh to the genre. I'd still recommend it to young readers looking for light fantasy.
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A magical hidden elixer and a new home for the summer with the mom that abandoned her, what could possibly happen? This story follows Piper, a 12 year old girl who is forced to stay with her mother while her dad is in the hospital getting his procedures for his cancer. Upon arriving at the estate, Piper learns that not only has her mother been foster 4 other children but that they all hav magical abilities and that Piper's beloved grandma has been gone for over a week.
The story deals with a lot of difficult subjects such as grief, abandonment, divorce, and foster care for children while adding in a magical storyline. The story itself was intriguing and I really liked the protagonist Piper. The quest that Piper goes on to find the magical elixir is quite interesting and the magic system in the book is fine. Overall its a good read for middlegrade and children as its a fun little journey.
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This is a fantastic, magical middle grade read that I adored! I loved how the story presented itself as a fairy tale with some hard truths rolled into it. There are definitely some darker parts to the story and some mysteries to solve but nothing too scary. I loved the writing style and the way the story flowed. Overall this was a quick fun read that I would recommend picking up for any of the young teens in your life!
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Piper’s father cancer is worse so she’s sent to stay with the mother who abandoned her as a baby. At her mom and grandmother’s house, Piper learns that she’s from a magical lineage and the foster kids living there all have affinities. Piper’s cruel mother wants the kids to use their magic to find an elixir of immortality. Piper secretly discovers her own magic, works with the other children, and discovers the true villain in the house.
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Immediately I was interested in a book that featured “witch” and “garden” in the title, and I was not at all disappointed. It is a great fantasy read for middle grades, full of three of my favorite things: magic, friendship and adventure. 

Piper finds herself suddenly living with her estranged mother who has been living on a mysterious family estate. The giant house is also home to other children with mysterious powers. As she discovers buried secrets, she is launched on a quest to find the truth. 

The plot is fast paced, with lots of surprise twists and turns. The main character and her best friend are hilarious, and I really enjoyed their relationship and dialogue throughout the story. As fun as the plot is, I also enjoyed Piper’s journey as she tries to deal with everything happening in her life. She is complex and an overall really likable character to follow.
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In a mix, which somewhat reminds of The Secret Garden and Miss Pergine's Home for Peculiar Children, this is an adventure packed with magic and friendship.

Piper hasn't seen her mother since the divorce, despite the fact that her mom still lives with her grandmother on the mysterious Mallory Estate. All of this is fairly fine, until Piper's father falls ill with cancer, and she moves in with her grandmother while he undergoes treatments. She's met with a shocking surprise, not only does her mother dislike her (for no apparent reason), but her mother has adopted several other children instead. With her grandmother out of the house, and the other children seemingly possessing magical talents, life begins to get strange. Soon, she finds herself wrapped up in a mountain of secrets...many which shouldn't even be possible.

This is a solid, fun, fantasy read for kids, where magic abounds and secrets lay lurking behind every twist and turn. It's not as carefree as the cover might suggest but carries weighted moments and dark mysteries. But with these characters, it's a worthy adventure. Piper is obviously out of her comfort zone and has a lot to learn and deal with. But she has the personality which makes it easy to root for her. The other children at the Estate stretch over a nice variety of quirks, making each one a treat in their own way. Some are easy; others are not. It's a lovely mix.

Mystery and secrets fly as imaginative as the magic. The garden is a wondrous and perfect place to hold at the center of the tale. But then, there are all sorts of surprises, which keep these pages turning. The writing is just right for the age group, and while I did find that the first chapters jumped into things a bit quick (leaving getting to know Piper a little better first behind), the start does dive right into the action and capture attention. I was a bit disappointed with the mother's character. Her meanness to her own daughter seemed to come out of nowhere and held on without explanation. Still, it's a nice read and definitely worth picking up.
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Piper Peavey didn't want to spend her summer at the Mallory Estate. It's cold, the garden is dead, random children are around, and the owner is purported to be a witch. The owner is Piper's grandmother, and Piper has to go to the estate when her father is too ill from cancer. Piper will have to try to unlock the secrets of the estate to try to save her father.

The Girl and the Witch's Garden is a book geared for middle-grade readers, and Piper is twelve years old. She introduced to the world of magic and affinities early in the novel, and that her mother had essentially abandoned her to work with children that have a magical affinity. When we meet her, Sophia has no emotional connection at all with Piper and chooses to leave the only meal she planned to eat with Piper and the other children. This was not an auspicious start, and I didn't like her at all. Even when it was clear she was manipulated and not all of her behavior was her fault, I still found her fairly unlikable.

The secret of the garden is an elixir of immortality that was hidden from all magi. Adults can't find it, and the other children at the estate hope to find it in order to stay and be adopted, but Piper wants to save her father, who is dying. Piper has to choose between her newfound friends and her father, and it's not an easy one to make. The average middle-grade student doesn't have to make a choice like this, but they do have to make difficult decisions as they balance the needs of their friendships and day to day lives against the needs of their family. This book also deals with death and dying from a child's perspective, as well as fears of being alone.
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The Girl and the Witch's Garden is a magical but dramatic middle grade children's story. Piper Peavey is sent to spend the summer with her grandmother. Piper has a lot to deal with -- her father is dying, her mother abandoned her, her grandmother is eccentric....the estate is filled with foster kids who claim magical abilities. It's a weird situation. Piper is an awesome main character. She isn't perfect....but she seems real. She lies and manipulates others when necessary, but also shows great strength, resilience and kindness as well. 

This story is magical, but has a hard edge of blunt truth to it as well. I think that made the story seem magical, but real at the same time. A fairy tale with a bit of bite to it. 

This is the first book by Erin Bowman that I have read. I'm definitely going to read more. This story was enjoyable and well-written. Very though provoking. I'm not sure as a child I would have had the strength that Piper or the other children have. I don't think I would have liked a summer at the Mallory Estate or that I could have weathered the storms that Piper had in her life. 

*I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Simon & Schuster. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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The strength of The Girl and the Witch’s Garden is in the characters. Piper is inquisitive and likeable. As the main character, she gets most of the attention, but the other children are fairly well-developed, too, giving this an almost — but not quite — ensemble feel.

As is often the case with middle readers, the adults are more of a mystery and can feel one-dimensional. There’s plenty of room for this to become a full-on series, so I’d expect more development in later novels.

The Girl in the Witch’s Garden is a fast-paced mystery full of charm. I read this in one sitting, and I know when my daughter’s a bit older, she’ll be glued to it, too. Fingers crossed there will be more books in this world.
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I really enjoyed this fun magical book.  When Pipers dad falls ill she is sent to stay with her mother who she hasn't seen since she was 4.  She goes to her grandmother's estate and meets her mother's foster children and discovers they have magic. Her mother wants nothing to do with her since Piper has no magic.  But Piper and the other children learn more about life and courage as they work to discover an entrance to a magical garden.
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Piper is 12 and for her summer vacation, she's going to spend it with her mom and her grandma, which sounds like it might be fun.  Except Piper's pretty mad at her mom for leaving the family when Piper was only 4.  Piper's dad is sick and needs treatment at the hospital so it's not like Piper has a choice.  But Piper gets really mad when she gets to the family home and finds that her mom does actually have time for kids, because she's fostering 4 other kids.  It turns out that Piper's family has a magical inheritance that her mom is determined to find.  This is a very fast paced mystery with great characters and fun plot twists.  I'm really happy that this is the first one in a series so I can look forward to reading more about Piper and her friends.
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In this middle-grade story of magic we follow Piper Peavey as she is sent to live with the mother who abandoned her and her father when she was a child. Once Piper arrives at Mallory Estate, the seemingly run-down grounds of the estate are where Piper finds her true self. With the help of some new friends, Piper learns to cope with loss and that is okay to not always forgive adults, even your own family. 

This book teaches us that as children, it is okay to not always forgive when they have wronged you, but to learn to move on and deal with the situation. Another important element is addressing loss, grieving, and acceptance, which is one of the hardest forms to teach children, this book does a great job of addressing and allowing the emotions to take hold of the reader. This tale is fast passed and will keep you reading as you realize Piper herself is not perfect, from lying to her friends and keeping secrets, but it makes her and the other children more real. I did find at sometimes that I thought the story was a little too fast, but I kept telling myself this is also a book for young readers and this type of style works well for their reading and keeping interest. I hope this tale is the first of a series, I would love to see how Piper and her newfound family deal with their growing powers and their growth as young people.

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley for my honest opinion.
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I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

The Girl and the Witch's Garden is about magic, but at heart, it's also about people being people, beautiful and ugly as they can be. That honesty provides a solid emotional core to this middle grade book. 

Piper is a kid in a tough spot. Her mom abandoned the family years ago, and her dad is her whole world, but now he's dying. Cancer. As his health fails, she's sent to live on the estate of her eccentric grandmother--which is where her estranged mom also lives. Awkward. The mansion is big and fancy and kept-up, but the massive garden is permanently dead. Even weirder, her mom and grandma have been taking care of a bunch of foster kids who claim to have magical powers. As Piper struggles to understand the grief and pain she feels about both of her parents, she's pulled into the other kid's efforts to unravel the garden's magical mysteries.

Piper is a great protagonist. She's not perfect--she hides things, she lies, she can be a bit manipulative, but she's overall good person. Her relationships with the other kids have a lot of nuance, too, and there's a fun, realistic baseball team rivalry mixed in, too. I think the book really shines with its depictions of adults. Fact is, grown-ups can be cruel, and that includes parents--and a kid cannot and should not be forced to accept and forgive that kind of abuse. 

While the book addresses dark stuff like that, there is some fun magic mixed in, too, all set on an extravagant estate you can't help but yearn to explore. There are some cool superpowers that play out, but this book is not about easy answers. I like that. This is the kind of read that will make kids (and adults) feel, and think about those feelings.
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SO. I'm going to be perfectly blunt here and say that this particular novel was . . . not exactly what I expected when I requested the arc for it. I'm sure this is yet another prime example of judging a book by its cover, but looking at the adorable illustration pictured above, I was expecting something soft and whimsical and--dare I say it--childish between the pages. That's what I love most about Middle Grade, after all. Of course it has deep themes and hard truths of life and all that "fun stuff" about what it's like living through your Youngin' Years, but there's also a simplicity and innocence lurking there, as well--something that Young Adult novels are strikingly without.

However, this book in particular felt more like a read for fans of the Percy Jackson series than fans of The Girl Who Drank The Moon, if that makes any sense. Whereas they're both Middle Grades with an emphasis on magic and the fantastical, they both have drastically different tones to them.

HOWEVER! That being said, this is definitely not a bad thing and should not be taken as a knock against this book! Despite the fact that it wasn't the tone I was initially anticipating (something that is entirely my fault), I still thought this book was very well done. 

The theme, in particular, stands out as one of this book's shining qualities. For one thing, it is deep for a children's book. Not in a "this is gonna fly right over this kid's head" kind of way, but in a "this is something that kids should really have more access to/conversation about" kind of way. It was nice to see a topic of such importance handled with such grace and tact, and I truly believe that somewhere out there, there's a child who will benefit greatly from having a book with this particular message in their life. (not to mention that it IS filled with magic and wonder and enchantments, which is clearly what all of us readers are here for anyways, amiright? XD)

While the theme may have been my favorite aspect of this book, the characters were probably my least favorite. (which sounds harsh, but I promise it's not as bad as it sounds.) Actually, the more I think about it, I'm not entirely sure whether it was the characters or the plot which fell a little flat for me--in some ways I think it might have been a mixture of the two working together--but there was definitely something about this novel that felt . . . "off".

Our main protagonist, Piper Peavey, started off with quite a bit of promise. And for the most part, she was a likable protagonist. She was smol and young and sassy--a beautiful combination, truly--but as the story progressed, she began to develop a trait which I'm seeing more and more in the fiction world, and one that I just canNOT get behind, no matter how many times it crops up: lying.

My goodness, if there is one thing we can change in the future years of the publishing industry, can it PLEASE be the storylines that revolve around lies? Like??? Please??? I can't even tell you how many books I have read that have "conflicts" which could easily be resolved in three minutes flat if the characters would just TALK to one another openly and honestly. I've actually considered flinging books at the wall because the characters are acting like utter imbeciles.

But I digress. These characters were not quite as bad as that, and the adorable motley crew of children living at Mallory Estate were, as a matter of fact, my favorite characters of the bunch. Especially Teddy and Kenji. (which is probably why it bothered me so much that Piper, who had JUST MET THESE SMOL PRECIOUS BEANS, started lying to them, even if I can understand the reasoning behind her secrecy.)

If you've been a reader of my blog for any length of time, you'll already know that characters MAKE a story for me. Plot is important, of course, but if your characters are flat, chances are I won't enjoy your story, even if it IS the coolest concept I've ever seen. So, with that being said, I truly believe that the smol beans of Mallory Estate brought the story together in a way that wouldn't have otherwise happened had they not been included in the cast. 

Piper's grandmother, on the other hand . . . well, she's part of the reason the story felt a bit off, simply because her and her daughter's character arcs felt slightly unnatural and forced. (Sophia Peavey, especially, was a bit of a disappointment as far as character development goes. I didn't really understand the reasoning behind her choices, even at the resolution of the story. it felt inorganic, in a way. definitely unnatural for the woman I had initially believed her to be, but maybe that was the point. . .?)

Overall, if I can stop thinking about the plot and characterization from a writer's perspective and view it as a reader simply looking for a good dose of the fantastical, I can honestly say I found this book to be a rather pleasant read. I wouldn't say it's an absolute favorite, but for readers looking for a sweet, enchanting Middle Grade novel with deep themes of love, loyalty, and family, I'd definitely recommend giving The Girl and the Witch's Garden a try!
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This book was beautifully written with a relatable main character, however I could not get over how cruel her mother was being. It was hard to read and made reading the book kind of depressing.
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Sweet, magical story. This is definitely something I would have loved when I was younger and read more middle grade. It was a quick and easy read and had a really intriguing plot, even as an adult. The magic and world-building, in general, felt pretty special and unique. 

I appreciated the serious undertones a lot, too. The main character Piper’s parents have been divorced since she was little and now her had is struggling with cancer. It’s the kind of situation some kids need to read about. Although, Piper’s mom was kind of hard to read. Her character was just so cold and without understanding why, it seemed kind of unnecessary at times. 

I had a few other small problems, but I think that just comes with the territory of being older and reading a book meant for children. 

Overall, a fun read for anyone.
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A little bit Matilda, a little bit Secret Garden, I'm a fan of magical kids finding and using their powers! I like that this book gives some doubt that things will turn out okay. Kids know that in real life, everything doesn't always work out for the best, and reading about other kids who have a bit of turmoil is a good thing. Piper and her friend Teddy say the funniest things to each other, and again I'm all in for magic saving the day.
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The Girl and the Witch's Garden is a perfect middle grade book.  It has magic, mystery, and dynamic relationships.  I started this book knowing nothing about it but the title.  It is beautifully written and the characters will stay with you long after you finish it. Hoping that there will be a sequel.
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This is an engaging exploration of a magical mystery. There's a good amount of tragedy in this book--Piper, the main character, was abandoned by her mother at a young age, and her dad is suffering from terminal cancer--but I think the book offers an effective analysis on trauma and grief within some of the more fast-paced elements. I also appreciate the imperfect way the friendships developed in this book. While there are a couple of truly terrible adults (a pet peeve of mine), it makes sense within the plot.
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