Title: THE MULBERRY TREE
Author: ALLISON RUSHBY
Genre: MIDDLE GRADE FICTION
Length: 304 PAGES
Publisher: CANDLEWICK PRESS
Received From: NETGALLEY
Release Date: JULY 14, 2020
Pre-Order: AVAILABLE NOW
Price: $17.99 USD
Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Is the eerie tree beside their bucolic cottage really a threat to ten-year-old Immy? Legend and hearsay give way to a creepy series of events in a captivating mystery.
Do naught wrong by the mulberry tree, or she’ll take your daughters . . . one, two, three.
Ten-year-old Immy and her family have run away from their storm cloud of problems to a tiny village in Cambridgeshire, England, where her depressed physician father can take a sabbatical and get back on his feet. Luckily, they find an adorable thatched cottage to begin a new life in. But their new home comes with one downside: in the backyard, there is an ancient, dark, and fierce-looking mulberry tree that has ceased bearing any fruit. There’s a legend that the towering tree steals away girls who live in the cottage on the eve of their eleventh birthday, and villagers even cross the street when they pass by the house. Of course, Immy thinks this is all ridiculous. But then she starts to hear a strange song in her head. . . . In a page-turner perfect for middle-graders, Allison Rushby folds themes of new-school travails, finding friends, being embarrassed by parents, and learning empathy into a deliciously goose-bumpy supernatural mystery.
“Do naught wrong by the mulberry tree, or she’ll take your daughters … one, two, three.
In the dead of night, spirited away, never to see an eleventh birthday.”
How can any potential reader not want to keep reading with an intro like that?
I know that it instantly piqued my interest, and at 304 pages, THE MULBERRY TREE is a substantial length which means that readers will be able to lose themselves in the story the same way I did.
Imogen (Immy) and her parents have moved to England from Australia. They are moving in order to seek a fresh start after her father experienced a trauma. In fact, since that fateful day, her father’s personality has completely changed and not in a good way. Immy doesn’t understand what has happened to her father and finds it extremely frustrating to feel so powerless. She wants her Dad to go back to the way he was, but she is starting to believe that this is his new normal.
As with all children, Immy had no say in the plans to relocate, and she is unhappy about leaving behind all her friends and everything else familiar.
Immy’s mother is a heart surgeon, her father was a Family Doctor, well, I guess he technically still is, but he isn’t currently practicing. He is depressed and blames himself for the actions of one of his patients.
The family decides to rent a cottage style house known to locals as “Lavender Cottage.” In the backyard of their new home is a huge mulberry tree. Little do they know this tree is at the center of a local superstition and the rhyme at the beginning of the book is about this same tree.
The locals all believe that the tree is evil, which is patently ridiculous … Or is it?
THE MULBERRY TREE has everything a middle grade reader could possibly want. The characters are believable, and most readers will find parts of themselves in Immy’s personality. I can still vividly remember my father doing embarassing things when I was Immy’s age, just like her father does to her. (As an adult, now I am the one embarassing my own kids.)
The story is fast paced and readers may just find themselves unable to put this book down. At night, I kept saying to myself that I would just read one more chapter before going to bed, but ended up staying awake until I finished the entire book.
So, since the plot is terrific, the story engaging, the characters relatable and believable, and the writing is nothing less than fantastic, I have no choice but to rate this book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and keep an eye out for several upcoming book giveaways on both here my blog and on my Instagram account at: http://www.instagram.com/Amiesbookreviews
Thanks to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Allison Rushby, an Australian author of a whole lot of books. I’m crazy about cities with long, winding histories, wild, overgrown cemeteries, red brick Victorian museums, foxes and ivy. When I’m not writing about these things, you can often find me falling down the rabbit hole of Social Media. of . Most days I’m helped (read: distracted) by my small, warm, wrinkly assistant, Claudia the Devon Rex cat who kindly allows me to live in her home.
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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:
Candlewick Press, based in Somerville, Massachusetts, publishes outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages.
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MORE BOOKS BY ALLISON RUSHBY: