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Strange, Lucy The Secret of Nightingale Wood. Chicken House/Scholastic, 2017 [304p]
ISBN 978-1-338-15747-5 $16.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5-7

It’s just after the end of World War I when twelve-year-old Henrietta moves with her parents and baby sister to ramshackle country manor Hope House. Henrietta finds little hope there, though, as her father swiftly departs the family for work abroad and her mother, fragile and grief-stricken since the death of Henrietta’s older brother, is drugged up and locked into her room under the guidance of manipulative Dr. Hardy. Henrietta’s only ally is Moth, a mysterious, even witch-like woman who lives in the nearby wood, who offers Henrietta succor and who seems to have a strange connection to Hope House. Will that be enough to help Henrietta save her family and herself? What looks like a ghost story turns into an appealing youthful gothic, with possible generationally transmitted madness, attempts at baby commandeering (the doctor and his wife really, really want Henrietta’s baby sister [End Page 134] for their own), and even a faked death; the atmosphere of the rustic seaside town and the isolated rural house is perfectly suited for the tale, and the strictures of the era, with Henrietta communicating with her father only by slow letter, are used to maximum effect. It’s best not to look for logic in the plot events, but that’s not the point of gothic anyway; readers will appreciate the mystery and melodrama and consider moving up from here to Daphne du Maurier.



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pp. 134-135
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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