Moving from London to the countryside, Henrietta, a 12-year-old white English girl, encounters mysterious secrets threatening to destroy her family.
In the summer of 1919, Henry and her family arrive at Hope House, with its gardens and “wilderness of woodland,” seeking a “fresh start.” Unwell since her son’s recent death, Henry’s mother immediately collapses; local Dr. Hardy sedates and confines her in a locked room. Simultaneously, Henry’s father exits abroad for his job, leaving Henry and her baby sister with their nanny. Alone, Henry spends days rereading familiar books and fairy tales and nights reliving the terrifying fire that killed the brother who haunts her. Magnetically drawn to Nightingale Wood, Henry discovers a woman called Moth living in a caravan harboring her own secrets like a “forgotten, fairy-tale princess.” When Dr. Hardy commits her mother to an asylum, removes her sister, and suggests she suffers the same mental illness as her mother, a resolute Henry attempts a daring rescue, aided by Moth. In an imaginative, compelling first-person narration, Henry wraps her story in fairy tales, exposing her guilt, grief, isolation, and fear as she unravels the stunning secrets of Nightingale Wood.
An evocative, beautifully written, mesmerizing debut tale with lush fairy-tale themes and a poignant exploration of mental illness—enthralling. (Historical fiction. 9-12)