This is my new book! It is the sequel to my first book UNDER A FAIRY MOON which won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book award for fantasy in 2012. I am very proud of it, but I didn’t want to critique this book myself, so I asked another author, H. D. Moore to do it for me. He promised to be as honest as he could, and I promised not to be too sensitive. I think it worked out okay! 😉
Wintergarden is a story of coming of age set in a fantastic world of cross dimensional travel. It has elements of classic fantasy and modern science fiction. The target audience is young adult readers.
Wallace invites us into a journey of self-discovery for our protagonist, Addyson Marten. The tale begins at the end of a long cold winter. Spring though, seems a long way off, as Addy recovers from a lengthy illness. Addy comes to herself, but carries with her memories from her fever dreams that seem all too real. There is a boy she knows from these dreams but has never met in the real world.
Next door to Addy lives Mrs. Tavish whose home is set in a marvelous garden. It is this garden that gives the book its title. A preternaturally vast space, it is home to a Labyrinth, the center of which is populated by large stone statues.
Wallace leads us gently into the garden, inviting us to experience magic and mystery. The opening third of the story features the interaction between Mrs. Tavish and Addy. There is a quiet desperation to the older woman who has full knowledge of what Addy experienced. The initial fear and suspicion that Addy holds is gradually replaced by trust and compassion. She convinces Addy to enter the garden and so begins Addy’s quest to find Connor, Mrs. Tavish’s kidnapped son, and bring him home.
This is a journey tale, both into the landscape of the garden and into Addyson’s exploration of who she truly is. The Labyrinth itself is the path of discovery as Addy encounters alternate realms, magical creatures, witches and her own fears and limitations. The description is painted on a broad canvas that unfolds as we go inward, following the spirals of both the Labyrinth and Addy’s soul.
The second part of the book switches to a different protagonist and is told from his perspective. Connor, who is the son of Mrs. Tavish, is introduced as the Prince of Labyrinths. This mystical creature seems to be both a human child and something else. The story here gets somewhat murky and esoteric and I was glad to get back to Addyson in the third part of the book where her quest to rescue him resumes.
As in all quest stories, the going gets tougher the closer Addy gets to her goal. We encounter all manner of malevolent creatures along the way, all set to thwart Addy. She is persistent and plucky and remains undaunted even in the presence of the evil Queen Uhtrace. Triumph comes with Addyson’s discovery of her true identity and she comes into her own.
I liked Addy and cheered her on. I can’t say the same for the other protagonist, Connor, who I found to be a rather pathetic creature. Some of the supporting cast were marvelous, particularly the pixie, Enitua, who brought humor and playfulness to the story. I would recommend this story for older teens who are struggling with questions of identity and belonging.
H. D. Moore
(Author of Broken Faith, Authorhouse publishing, 2013.)