Do naught wrong by the mulberry tree, or she’ll take your daughters … one, two, three.
Ten-year-old Immy and her family run away from their storm cloud of problems to a tiny village in Cambridgeshire, England. When they find an adorable thatched cottage to begin a perfect new life in, the only downside is the ancient, dark and fierce-looking mulberry tree in the back garden. And the legend that comes with it – the villagers say the tree steals away girls living in the cottage on the eve of their eleventh birthday. Of course, Immy thinks this is ridiculous. Then she starts to hear a strange song in her head …
Allison Rushby’s new novel for middle-grade readers is a captivating, spooky mystery.
Lavender Cottage seems like the perfect place for 10-year-old Immy and her parents to rebuild their lives after moving to England from Australia, where a tragic incident with a patient overwhelmed her physician father with guilt. But their fresh start is complicated by the huge, ancient mulberry tree in the back garden. Local legend blames it for the disappearance of two village girls on the eves of their 11th birthdays, and Immy's new classmates become angry when her depressed father scoffs at these superstitions. Haunted by a nursery rhyme only she can hear, Immy feels strangely drawn to the tree, but as her own 11th birthday draws near, she begins to sense sadness and rage emanating from it and vows to understand its history \nand that of the missing girls even as she confronts her own anger at her father. Though recapitulations of its main themes, particularly the power of forgiveness, can feel repetitive, Rushby's eerie tale should suit younger middle grade horror fans; the plot moves quickly, and the lightly creepy atmosphere remains spooky without becoming threatening. Ages 9 12. \n