Basil & Dahlia: A Tragical Tale of Sinister Sweetness

S. & S./Atheneum. May 2024. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665944236.
Gr 5 Up–A cross between “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and "Hansel and Gretel," this is a whimsical and suspenseful story about two formerly homeschooled orphans. Basil is a bookworm with a terrible secret; Dahlia is brilliantly quick-thinking (and can’t read because her brain works differently). With their combined powers they can make it through anything, they hope; but New York City, germs, and a wicked witch are going to be a challenge, even for them. Although set in the modern day, the narrator is mid-19th-century British. This leads to some humorous misunderstandings over items, such as phones and cars, but the period narration is not always consistent with historical technologies or perspectives. There are a handful of illustrations sprinkled throughout, all black and white. The major characters are illustrated with white skin or described as pale, while a few minor characters are left ambiguous. There are some intense scenes in this dark comedy, although none likely to induce nightmares. Even though it doesn’t have an exactly happy ending, the resolution will still be satisfying for most readers.
VERDICT Fans of Lemony Snicket and Western fairy tales will devour this darkly humorous read.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing