THE DARK GARDEN by Margaret Buffie
Kirkus Star


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Originally published in Canada, a first-rate blend of a ghost story and problem novel about Thea, 16, struggling to recover from traumatic amnesia after a bike accident. Released from the hospital, she returns as a stranger to a dysfunctional family she doesn't remember. She knows their old house, but her memories belong to another time, long before her family lived there. She sees evanescent figures, hears voices, and even seems to be someone else at times. Illness, insanity--or a haunting? With help from a sympathetic clergyman and a young, handsome neighbor, Thea uncovers and, in part, relives a long-ago tragedy involving a romantic triangle, a murder, and a madman. She also intercedes with her self-absorbed parents to free herself and her troubled younger sisters from the burden of their neglect. From material that might have become melodrama in less skilled hands, Buffie (The Warnings, 1991, etc.) creates a tightly knit, evocatively written, and lushly (but chastely) romantic thriller. The protagonists--living and dead--are distinctly characterized; a once beautiful, now weed-choked garden is simultaneously setting and symbol of lost happiness. Parallels between Thea's plight and that of her ghostly predecessor are clearly but unobtrusively drawn, and vivid sensory writing makes the fluctuations in Thea's state of consciousness perfectly convincing. A verse from Tennyson's ""Lady of Shalott,"" used as an epigraph, is woven through this exceptional entry in what is often a ""fluff"" genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1550742884
Page count: 237pp
Publisher: "Kids Can Press (85 River Rock Dr., Buffalo, NY 14207)"