This Year's Favorite MG Read So Far: The Girl and The Witch's Garden by Erin Bowman

After a couple weeks full of fantasy and contemporary, the kid side in me longed for something adventurous and MG-ish. Since I have always had a special spot for middle-grade stories, this feeling was clearly welcomed. Needless to say, I had had a few books in mind that I thought would be a great fit, but somehow, my choice fell on The Girl and The Witch's Garden by Erin Bowman whose cover reminded me of something that came straight out of Studio Ghibli.

I was honestly a little intimated by how gorgeous the cover is at first. It would be very unfortunate if the story wasn't half as interesting as the look of the cover, though you can rest assured for one thing is certain now: this book turns out to be my most favorite middle-grade read so far this year hence I can't thank OwlCrate Jr enough for including this book in their June "Magic In Bloom" box. You can see my unboxing post here.

The Girl and The Witch's Garden follows the story of a twelve-year-old Piper Peavey who has to spend her summer vacation in her mother and grandmother's house, the Mallory Estate. Besides not wanting to leave her father alone in the hospital, it's been seven years since her mother abandoned Piper and her father, therefore imagine how surprised Piper is when she finds out that her cruel mother is fostering kids now.

Soon, Piper discovers that magic is real and she may need to lie to get what she needs the most. While the estate is rumored to be owned by a witch in addition to the dead garden that is never taken care of, Piper tries to uncover the secret beneath it before it's too late with the help of her new friends.

The beautiful Mallory Estate's map

An opening of a book could impress you in different ways, and sometimes you could even say that it's possible to foresee how it would be just by reading the first few pages. It might be a little too early to judge, but we all know that it's hard not to jump into assumptions right away. It's like what happened to me with this book. The Girl and The Witch's Garden left me with quite a deep impression since page 1 so I had known since then that this book was going to be awesome. If you want to know the reasons why I was truly in love with it, I suppose I can make a list:

  • A morally grey main charactercheck
  • Heartwarming friendshipcheck
  • Teary-eyed scenescheck
  • Secretly sneak into a restricted area in the middle of the nightcheck
  • Magic and mysterycheck
  • Imaginative and descriptive settingcheck

Since the size of this book wasn't too big, the pace of the story was of course fast. I was deeply enthralled by the enigmatic ambiance that hung around the Mallory Estate: the writing of the setting left me in awe while at the same time creeped me out too. The same went for the way the magic worked in this book. Everything just felt refreshing and all the while suitable.

Piper and all the kids in the Mallory Estate were such amazing characters to explore. Despite being forced to hide the truth a few times, I still adored Piper for being relatable. I even felt a pang of sadness every time she had to face her mother, though for a twelve-year-old kid, Piper was very strong, not to mention extremely clever also. Meanwhile, the same could be applied to Julius, Camilla, Kenji, and Teddy, even if they, in my opinion, had the potential to be more developed in terms of characters.

While the twists weren't exactly unexpected, each of them still felt significant. However, I couldn't help but think that the riddles guarding the secret of the garden were unbelievably too easy. Imagine: with a bunch of kids with suitable magic, the mysteries could be cracked that quickly. It is a middle-grade book, yes, but considering how the garden was a big, old secret, I was hoping to see something grand regarding the code-cracking affairs.

Still, I considered The Girl and The Witch's Garden very heart-warming, all in all. With a satisfying conclusion to end the journey, this book managed to squeeze in some messages throughout the story, and at some point, it even got my eyes all teary and wet. Even though I was hoping for more details about the magi world, magi hunters, and their motives, I adored this book so much. If you love magical adventure and middle-grade stories in general, I believe this book would be something you'd like to put your nose in.

Actual rating: 4.8★