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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A spellbinding tale of magical realism and superb, twisty retelling of The Secret Garden, where twelve-year-old Lottie’s colorful world turns suddenly gray when an unexpected accident claims her parents, and she is uprooted from her home to live with an eccentric uncle she never knew she had—on the border that separates the living and the dead. Lottie lives in Vivelle—the heart of a vibrant city where life exists in brilliant technicolor and nearly everyone has magic. And Lottie is no exception; she can paint pictures to life in every shade and hue imaginable. But at the sudden loss of her parents, all the color is stripped from Lottie’s heart and the world around her. Taken in by her reclusive, eccentric uncle, Lottie moves into Forsaken, his vast manor located in the gray wasteland between the Land of the Living and Ever After, the land of the dead. The discovery of a locked-up garden, a wise cardinal, a hidden boy, and a family whose world is full of color despite the bleaknes…

The Edge of In Between

by Lorelei Savaryn

Overall Book Review:

As a young girl I loved to watch the movies The Secret Garden and A Little Princess so I was very happy to begin reading this book and get Frances Hodgson Burnett vibes almost right away. 

There are some magical realism facets to this book that weren’t as detailed as they could be; however, as this isn’t an adult book, I think the author showed a bit of restraint, trying to keep the story interesting and a bit creepy and yet not so scary that the suggested age group for reading this book won’t be able to handle it. 

When we first meet Lottie she is living happily with her parents in a fictional land called Vivelle. Lottie has a gift for art, and sees things as beautiful and bright which often helps her deal with the reality that not everyone in Vivelle leads a life as colorful as she does. Though it is clear that Lottie is insightful and knows a lot about the world around her, she is a young girl with her whole life ahead of her and hasn’t known grief or hardship like some of those who live in the city of Vivelle and whose lives have lost their color. 

Following along in a similar storyline as Hodgson Burnett’s, Lottie is suddenly left an orphan when her parents never return from a party, dying in an accident on their way home. Though Lottie is taken in by a recluse uncle that she never knew existed, she knows life will never be the same and this is where the story began to match up very closely to what I remember of The Secret Garden, with the author taking care to add in her own imaginative additions to the plot such as the land of In Between where spirits go when their human body dies. 

Though Lottie finds her uncle hard to understand, she begins to wrap her mind around his belief that a spirit might be brought back from the In Between if found. Lottie holds out hope that she and her parents may one day be reunited, but in the meantime she makes discoveries similar to those that Mary did in The Secret Garden.

It was fun to read this book and reminisce about how much I love the idea of a secret garden that has been locked up and forgotten and then rediscovered and made to flourish once again. The Edge of In Between is not only a fun and imaginative read, it also has some deeper themes if you’re willing to look for them.

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy from Penguin Random House

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: None

Violence/Gore: A brief scene occurs where a young girl overhears someone telling a woman that the girls parents have died in an accident; several brief instances of a young girl hearing strange noises in the night; a reference is made to a woman having died from pregnancy complications after giving birth; a brief scary scene occurs where a woman is mentioned to have decomposing skin, skin pulling back from bones; mentions are made of people dying and going to an in between place; several mentions are made of a minor being aware of ghosts, spirits and dead people.

Sex/Nudity: None

Mature Subject Matter:

Death; loss of a loved one; ghosts; supernatural occurrences.

Alcohol/Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.