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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Imagine spending Christmas with a witch in a haunted house, with a werewolf. Sound like fun? Siblings Ava, Nolan, and Charlotte are not going to have their usual fun-filled Christmas at home with their parents. Mom and Dad are doctors and they’re required at the hospital. The only family member available and willing to take in the children during the holidays is Great-Aunt Poppy. She lives way out in the country in a dilapidated old house full of cats (and much more). And, to top it off, she’s a witch. Is she a good witch or a bad witch? The children are too scared to consider either. They just don’t want to be with Great-Aunt Poppy for the holidays, or ever, for that matter. All they can do is band together and find a way to make things work. And to stay alive.
Hallie Christensen’s middle-grade novel, Enchanted Misadventures with Great-Aunt Poppy: Magic, Mayhem, and Monsters, is a fun-filled and sometimes scary fantasy adventure full of all the things the title suggests: magic, mayhem, and monsters. The plot develops from the initial news of the pending doomsday visit to this mysterious great-aunt. Ava, the oldest, shares stories of her visit years ago to Great-Aunt Poppy’s house. The others, not having visited the great-aunt (whom they have nicknamed Groppy), hang onto every word and the fear escalates with each telling. It doesn’t help that their first impressions upon arrival are in line with Ava’s stories. And the strange happenings begin as soon as they enter the house. The plot thickens, the characters are well developed with good descriptive narrative to set the stage, the story hits its climax, and the reader will definitely be sitting on the edge of their seat.
There are some unexpected changes of direction after the climax and the reader is rewarded with a satisfactory resolution. I particularly like the great-aunt’s profound words of wisdom: “You should never hide who you are. No matter what people may think or won’t believe.” Great-Aunt Poppy obviously has no problem looking her part and she’s proud of who and what she is. A real page-turner with that one subtle message: don’t concern yourself with what others think of you. Be yourself.