Blog Tour Book Review: Return to the Secret Garden (Holly Webb)
* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *
Publisher: Scholastic UK
Release Date: October 1st 2015
It’s 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house – a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary and a garden. A very secret garden…
I interviewed Holly Webb on writing a sequel to The Secret Garden a few weeks ago, and it made me really excited to read her book, so of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of a review tour!
It must tricky writing a sequel to such a well known classic, and I can see why Webb chooses to focus on a new set of characters rather than picking up where the first book left off. We get a whole new story in the same setting, but also get to find out what happened to our favourite characters too.
We don’t really find out who is who in terms of returning characters until near the end, but they’re not too hard to guess, especially if you’ve recently read the first book as I have. It’s a bit sad to see how times have changed them, but it’s understandable too: they’ve grown up from the children they were in the first book, and have lived through one World War and are enduring a second. If that hadn’t touched them in some unforgettable way then it wouldn’t be very believable.
The new characters share certain traits with the old ones, but have enough of their own differences to let them standalone and have their own story. Like Mary, Emmie is sour and skinny and is used to being alone. It would be easy to dislike such a bad tempered protagonist, but Emmie’s relationship with a stray cat shows that she’s not all mean, and she begins to blossom in the secret garden just as Mary once did.
I really enjoyed the story, especially the Second World War setting, and thought the book was best when it was doing it’s own thing – there were some times when the similarities with the first book were a bit too strong for me, but that could just be because I read the first so recently and its events are still firmly in my mind.
You don’t need to have read the original to enjoy this book, though I would recommend it, as it’s a lovely little story. This book manages to be just as charming and compelling without falling into the trap of being twee, which I thought was a real danger. This is definitely a book for fans of The Secret Garden, and for those who’ve yet to discover it.
If you enjoyed this, you might like The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
About the Author:
Holly Webb was one of the World Book Day authors for 2012 and has received high praise for her previous standalone fiction Looking for Bear, A Cat Called Penguin, The Chocolate Dog and A Tiger Tale. She published her 100th book, The Truffle Mouse, in August.
Follow the Tour
To keep up with the blog tour for the rest of the week and catch up on any you might have missed, check out the tour poster and follow the links below.
Monday 9th November
Tuesday 10th November
Wednesday 11th November
Thursday 12th November
Friday 13th November
Saturday 14th November
Sunday 15th November