The Girl and the Witch’s Garden by Erin Bowman

The Girl and the Witch's Garden


Goodreads: The Girl and the Witch’s Garden
Series: None

Official Summary

Mallory Estate is the last place twelve-year-old Piper Peavey wants to spend her summer vacation. The grounds are always cold, the garden out back is dead, a mysterious group of children call the property home, and there’s a rumor that Melena M. Mallory—the owner of the estate and Piper’s wealthy grandmother—is a witch.

But when Piper’s father falls ill, Mallory Estate is exactly where she finds herself.

The grand house and its garden hold many secrets—some of which may even save her father—and Piper will need to believe in herself, her new friends, and magic if she wants to unlock them before it’s too late.

Star Divider


The Girl and the Witch’s Garden evokes the feeling of classic children’s fantasy, where old estates hold secret portals to another world. However, while the idea of a hidden garden remains as enchanting as ever, the execution of the plotline shows some weaknesses that prevent the story from being as remarkable as it might have been. I wanted to adore The Girl and the Witch’s Garden because it possesses all the right elements to make my imagination soar. In the end, however, the storyline is rushed and predictable, making this a book one I am not likely to reread.

Like many a classic tale, this one begins with a girl arriving at an old estate said to be owned by a witch. Inside, she finds a number of orphans who are being fostered and who claim to possess magical skills. Their quest? To find their way inside a magic garden and complete a series of trials in order to obtain a legendary object of great power. Initially, the protagonist, Piper Peavey, does not believe them. But when she learns that they seek a potion of immortality, she becomes desperate to claim it for her dad, who is dying from cancer.

This is the kind of plot that normally would move and delight me. I love stories where the magical intersects with the everyday, where enchantment lurks just beyond the corner, if one knows how to look. Unfortunately, however, the rushed plotline made it difficult for me to feel immersed in the story. Piper unlocks her magical ability, learns how to control it, enters the secret garden, and completes the first trial almost immediately. Subsequent trials are passed with equal ease. For a story to grip me, I need there to be challenges to overcome. I need the characters to feel trapped, to sleep on the solution for a few days, to seek outside help because they are absolutely stumped. Having characters solve a puzzle in ten minutes after a failed try or two simply does not provide the same sense of drama. It lowers the stakes and makes it seem as if the garden is a puzzle anyone could solve, as long as they possess the right magical knack.

All this leads up to a climax that is too predictable to be exciting. Because the book spends a lot of time setting up an obvious villain early on, I knew who the the real villain must be and even where they must be. Perhaps the target audience will gasp in surprise at the late revelations, but I merely yawned. Then got annoyed when new powers suddenly came into play at the last moment. A deus ex machina to end the tale? Of course.

I wanted to love The Girl and the Witch’s Garden. This is a book I have eagerly been anticipating since last year, and only managed to read now because of the pandemic and other factors. Unfortunately, however, the magic of the premise did not translate into the execution.

3 Stars

2 thoughts on “The Girl and the Witch’s Garden by Erin Bowman

  1. Zezee says:

    Aww, sorry this one didn’t work out, but it does sound like classic children’s fantasy to me too from how you describe it, so I want to give it a try as well, although I think my reaction will be pretty similar. I’ll add it to my TBR.


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