Wormwood Mire by Judith Rossell (review)
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Reviewed by
Rossell, Judith Wormwood Mire. Atheneum, 2017[288p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-4370-8 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-4372-2 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4–6

In this sequel to the elegant Withering-by-Sea (BCCB 3/16), Stella, having broken several rules in the previous novel, is now in so much trouble with her three strict aunts that they send her away to Wormwood Mire, where she will live with her two cousins and their governess. Honestly, though, it can’t be worse than Stella’s current life so she’s ready for something that is at least new, if not better. It ends up being both, and there are even opportunities to explore the origins of a mysterious picture she owns that seems to suggest that when she was an infant Stella had a sister and a mother—a family that loved her (and accepted her burgeoning supernatural abilities) instead of barely tolerating her presence. Strideforth and Hortense, Stella’s cousins, are excellent additions to the character mix, distinct in their eccentricities while presenting a united front on being allies to Stella, which she desperately needs. Much relies on having read the earlier novel, and readers will miss a lot of nuance in Stella’s character development in particular if they start here, though Rossell does admirable work weaving in reminders about what came before. Both novels are rewarding, poetic, old-fashioned, warm but never treacly, and packed with dramatic tension, and although major plot points are resolved, there’s still room for another look at this world and Stella’s evolving place within it—fingers crossed. [End Page 468]

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