Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Ghost in the Garden by Alisse Lee Goldenberg


Sophie Madison, 12 years old, is moving to the small town of Stratford, Ontario. She can't help compare her new small town to all the exciting parts of Calgary that she loved so much. Her guidance counselor father thought a smaller school would be beneficial but Sophie was not convinced. The only silver lining is in the form of a very cool turret bedroom in her new house. The house even comes with a garden and if Sophie's eyes do not deceive her, a resident ghost!

That's not the only "ghost" in her life. Sophie's best friend, Tina, seems to have ghosted her. Thankfully she meets a neighbor boy her age, Fitzroy, who offers to show her around Stratford. He also proves to be a great ally in trying to solve the mystery of some very strange occurrences happening in Sophie's house. Fitz calls on the help of a teacher with an interest in the paranormal and discovers that there may be more than one haunted place in Stratford. Eventually, Sophie comes clean to her parents about the strange nighttime events and they are portrayed in a positive, supportive way. 

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from The Ghost in the Garden. I thought it might be along the lines of an imaginary friend who helps Sophie cope with moving. Tabitha does fit that description but there is a second spirit of a decidedly more sinister nature which added a good bit of scare factor to the story. Given that the story involves a 12-year-old, I would say this is best suited for middle school readers. I think younger readers may find some scenes rather frightening (especially if they have a vivid imagination!). I really liked the interactions between Fitz and Sophie and enjoyed exploring the town through Sophie's eyes. The author had some end notes explaining some things unique to Canada and the inspiration for the story setting. 

For the reader who enjoys a bit of fright fiction, this story offers good doses of friendship and a strong family to help offset the scary parts. Nothing Sophie will face at her new school could be half as frightening as the summer she survived! Sophie offers readers a great role model of a courageous heroine who learned to face her fears. That's a skill we could all benefit from!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Ghost in the Garden from Reedsy Discovery for the purpose of review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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