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Reviewed by Sarah Scheele for Readers' Favorite
The Witch with the Walled Garden by Claire Carey is an inventive time-travel story that takes two families back and forth between 1931 and 2017. Two teens and a 12-year-old boy (Kelvin, who is autistic, and his younger siblings Yazz and Max) live in a tiny English village, home to a magical walled garden. Their parents never talk to them about the garden and fear it because it is owned by a witch who once cursed the villagers. But when the kids stay with their grandmother, Daisy, they end up on the adventure of a lifetime. Two little girls disappeared through a time-travel portal in the garden years ago. Grandma Daisy takes her three grandchildren and her friend Fred on a journey to find the witch Matilda and bring a long-separated family back together again.
The Witch with the Walled Garden develops the time-travel angle convincingly while blending it with magic and fantasy really well. I was impressed by the strong emotion in the story. The journey into the vintage era was very well realized. The saga of the missing girls, who have lived into adulthood lost in the 1930s, was fluid and natural in its expression—sincere and heartfelt. With its focus on journeys through time, I found the book also quite successfully showed that age is just a number and that at times grandparents are still learning while kids are capable of surprising maturity and thoughtfulness. Claire Carey has done a commendable job of showing a special-needs child in a positive light, possessing unique strengths that bring value to the team to which he belongs. The good message about caring for and reaching out to others, along with Kelvin’s character, makes this a book I’d recommend to families.