Eden's Everdark, by Karen Strong

Eden's Everdark, by Karen Strong (September 6th 2022,Simon & Schuster), is a creepy ghostly middle grade horror story; but that being said, it is also a story of love and grief, family and history.

Eden's mother never took her to visit Safina Island off the Georgia Coast, home to generations of her family who were first enslaved there and then made it their own place, where they owned land and became a strong community.  But after her mother dies, her father takes her to see her family there.  Not only does Eden find love from her kin in this beautiful island full of history, but discovers it's dark side, a darkness that was the reason her mother and grandmother left when her mother was still a girl.

Her mother left behind a sketchbook full of terrifying images--monsters, strange and spooky children, and more.  And Eden discovers these weren't drawn from imagination, but from real life.  When she finds a rift into the darkness, she feels strangely drawn to it, and goes through.  Just as the witch who rules this land of ever darkness, where the sun never shines, wanted.

The Everdark is a spectral overlay on the real world, and in the grand house built by the descendants of the plantation owners, the witch, who calls herself Mother Mary, exercises near total control of the ghosts she's captured.  Two ghost girls have been made her children, and she want's Eden to be her third dear daughter.  Eden is still alive, though...though possibly not for long....and she's determined to escape.  

But getting free means figuring out the sources of Mother Mary's power, and how to break it before she herself is broken.  And it means uncovering the secret of her mother's magic--the family gift of making things grow--and finding it with herself as well.

The warm and loving first section of the book is a sharp and very effective contrast to the horror of the Everdark, with its creeping rot, trapped ghosts, Mother Mary being terrifying inside, and monsters lurking outside.  But her survival and ultimate escape comes in no small part from the warmth and love in her own self.  Added interest comes from the identities of all the ghosts (who come from many different times) that Eden meets. Mother Mary's backstory packs an especially intense punch--she isn't just a cardboard villain, but someone who was badly wronged who really does want her "children" to love her.

There's no miraculous end to Eden's grief as a result of her sojourn among the dead, but the story does end back in a place of warmth and light.  It's gorgeously atmospheric and enthralling, so much so it kept my mind firmly its grip, which is especially noteworthy because I read it in a single sitting while my car was failing inspection and The Price is Right blared very loudly over my head.....


  1. (Aren't car shops THE WORST with the loud TV's!? This is truly an arresting book if you could read through TPiR.) There are so many spooky books coming out this year and I kind of was wanting to read this one but it also seemed... scary. (I just SO do not love the creepy.) So, I'm glad you've read it first!

    1. I was at least grateful that it wasn't Fox news...and there is creepy here, but it isn't burn itself into your unwilling retinas, flash backing constantly at you horror, so you would probably be ok....

  2. Ooh, I am looking forward to this one. I enjoyed JUST SOUTH OF HOME and it sounds like I will enjoy this even more!


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