Sisters of the Lost Marsh

Scholastic/Chicken House. Jan. 2023. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338686463.
Gr 3-7–Strange (Secret of Nightingale Wood) immerses readers in a timeless historical fiction tale based on the real exploits of locals residing in Britain’s Romney Marsh. The marsh is located in East Sussex where the author wholeheartedly conveys the loneliness and isolation of the villagers. Narrator Willa Fernsby, 12, is one of six motherless girls living on a farm with their abusive father and ahead-of-her-times grammy. Willa’s dad is tortured by superstition and an elusive curse forces him to marry off his eldest daughter, Grace. When Grace runs away, Willa goes on a quest to bring her back and salvage her family. Readers will be swept up in the beguiling setting, rural folklore, witchcraft, adventure, and sisterhood. The ending paves the way for a sequel featuring further experiences of the Fernsby girls. This is an age-appropriate mystery for those who enjoy reading about divergent experiences of young women who don’t fit the mold in history.
VERDICT Strange has crafted a novel that is ideal for fans of Alcott’s Little Women, and those who like stories of capable and tenacious girls overcoming adversity.

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