Elizabeth and Zenobia

Jessica Miller, illus. by Yelena Bryksenkova. Amulet, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2724-5
After Elizabeth Murmur’s mother abandons Elizabeth and her father, they move into his childhood home, Witheringe House. Accompanying Elizabeth is her constant companion Zenobia, who her father dismisses as an imaginary friend but who Elizabeth knows is something... else (“There’s a faintness about her that makes it hard to tell where she ends and the rest of the world begins”). Unlike timid, scared-of-everything Elizabeth, Zenobia adores the gloomy, fog-shrouded mansion and is obsessed with conjuring a “Spirit Presence.” Elizabeth reluctantly follows Zenobia to the forbidden East Wing of the estate to perform séances, where they unravel a mystery surrounding Elizabeth’s father’s sister, who disappeared at age seven. Rounding out the gothic atmosphere of Australian author Miller’s first children’s book is a lurking housekeeper, a magical storybook, a cemetery, and a garden tended by a gardener who the adults claim doesn’t exist; Bryksenkova’s stark b&w spot illustrations add to the overall creepiness. Readers will be absorbed by Elizabeth and Zenobia’s conversations, the complex and chilling plot, Elizabeth’s transformation from meek to brave—and the mystery of what, exactly, Zenobia is. Ages 9–13. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/25/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-1-5414-1196-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-5414-6196-3
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