Mini Reviews: The Girl with the Ghost Machine and The Castle in the Mist

Posted May 29, 2017 by Lori in Books, Reviews / 1 Comment Tags: , ,

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I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mini Reviews: The Girl with the Ghost Machine and The Castle in the MistThe Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren DeStefano
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on June 6th 2017
Genres: Middle-Grade, fantasy, Death & Dying
Pages: 211
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
AmazonBarnes and NobleBook Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

What if a machine could bring back the ones we love? From New York Times bestseller Lauren DeStefano comes a captivating middle grade of loss, love and hope.
In this beautiful and poignant novel, acclaimed author Lauren DeStefano tells a story love and loss, and what it means to say goodbye.
When Emmaline Beaumont's father started building the ghost machine, she didn't expect it to bring her mother back from the dead. But by locking himself in the basement to toil away at his hopes, Monsieur Beaumont has become obsessed with the contraption and neglected the living, and Emmaline is tired of feeling forgotten.
Nothing good has come from building the ghost machine, and Emmaline decides that the only way to bring her father back will be to make the ghost machine work…or destroy it forever.

Well. This one was a lot different than I thought it was going to be. I was expecting a book about a girl dealing with her mother’s death and a father who wants to bring her back to life with his ghost machine. But what I got was a book that was constantly sad and full of lessons about death. Parts of it were really good and important. The idea that the memories we have of those who have died live on in us and that if we keep their memories alive, they can live on that way. Also, I really liked the idea of the machine and how it worked and how it helped the kids deal with their losses. But. Seriously. This book is incredibly sad. And I really don’t think it needed to be. The second part of the book gets much more intense and I think it’ll be a little bit too much for a lot of kids. If this book is meant to help those who have lost someone, it’s going to be an incredibly difficult story to read because there’s just so much loss and constant sadness and not a lot of hope. And if it’s meant to be for kids who just want a story about ghosts and creepy moments like in her two previous middle-grade books, they are going to be VERY surprised at how different and just how sad it is. My kids are very sensitive and this is not a book I would recommend to them. But books about grief and death and living are always important. So I’m glad this book will exist. But I’m just not entirely sure who the intended audience is. I was blindsided by the story and think it would have been enough for the main character just to have to deal with the loss of her mom and the distance the machine had put between her and her father and the idea of how important our memories are and maybe ending it on a note of hope at that point. I really found the second part completely unnecessary So I’m having a hard time rating this one because I know it’ll be important to some people but I’m still kind of pissed about the turn the story ended up taking and I don’t think it’s one a lot of kids will want to pick up or end up loving after reading it.

 

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mini Reviews: The Girl with the Ghost Machine and The Castle in the MistThe Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron
Published by Philomel Books on February 7th 2017
Genres: Middle-Grade, fantasy
Pages: 192
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
AmazonBarnes and NobleBook Depository
Goodreads
two-stars

Tess and Max travel behind the walls of a magical castle where wishes really do come true—if the hawthorne trees don’t get you first.
Tess and Max are sent to the English countryside for the summer and long for some excitement. So when Tess, out for a walk alone, happens upon an ornately carved gate and an old brass key, she decides to see what’s inside. To her amazement, she discovers the grounds of a castle filled with swans, bullfrogs, a hedge maze, an old-fashioned carnival, and a boy, William, just her age. William invites Tess back, and she can’t wait to return, this time with her brother.
But strange things happen at William’s castle. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there’s William’s warning: Beware the hawthorne trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.
In the end it’s up to Tess to save her family and her friends from being trapped forever in the world beyond the hawthorns—but will one wish be enough?

I was drawn into this one because of the cover. Middle-Grade books always get the best covers!! This one screamed cute and slightly creepy mystery full of friends and interesting secrets to me, which is why I requested it originally. But unfortunately for me, it did not live up to those expectations. I do feel a little weird rating this one because I am obviously not the intended audience and I definitely felt that throughout the book. Some middle-grade books are engaging and interesting for all kinds of audiences but this is definitely one I would not recommend to adults. The story was too simple and predictable and there isn’t a lot of background story or much growth in any of the characters from beginning to end. It’s clearly geared for younger kids, which is totally great just not what I was expecting. And in reality, I actually skimmed the last 80 pages or so of this. And I really don’t think I missed much. The biggest problem for me was just that not much happens. I liked the characters fine but it takes a long time for anything to really happen and the writing was a bit flat and unemotional for me. I can see the younger crowds enjoying this because of the magical elements and the setting and likeable characters but as an adult, it just didn’t really do anything for me. Especially as the magical elements would probably only impress the younger crowd. Which is great for them, there just isn’t a lot of crossover appeal to this one. It was a really fast read and I absolutely love the cover and I might recommend it for younger readers who are maybe looking for a mystery but aren’t ready for anything that’s actually scary or creepy or who are just starting out on chapter books. For me though, I was pretty disappointed.

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