The too-serene-to-be-true town of Belleville harbors some creepy secrets in Legrand's debut, a sinister and occasionally playful tale of suspense. Twelve-year-old perfectionist Victoria Wright has bouncy curls, a fixation on achieving straight As, and just one friend—unkempt, artistic Lawrence, who she considers her "personal project." But when Lawrence disappears, and Victoria launches an investigation to find him, she discovers more frightening trouble than she imagined. Victoria unravels the mystery behind the titular home for children, which is run by the ageless Mrs. Cavendish and a fiendish gardener/assistant. Hair-raising adventures involving slimy hidden passageways, pinching swarms of cockroaches, mystery meat, and the wrath of cruel Mrs. Cavendish fill the pages. Legrand gives Victoria's mission a prickly energy, and her descriptions of the sighing, heaving home—a character in itself—are the stuff of bad dreams. Watts's b&w illustrations of spindly characters, cryptic shadows, and cramped corridors amplify the unsettling ambiance, and her roach motif may have readers checking their arms. Ages 10–up. Agent: Diana Fox, Fox Literary. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/22/2012 Release date: 08/01/2012 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.