Elizabeth and Zenobia (Jessica Miller, Text)
Painfully quiet Elizabeth and her delightfully devious and not-quite-imaginary friend Zenobia move into Witheringe House, the old manor where Elizabeth’s father spent his childhood. It is also where Elizabeth’s aunt Tourmaline vanished at the age of seven, and it is to Zenobia’s great surprise that Elizabeth, who is scared of everything from snakes to gloves without hands in them, insists they solve the mystery of Tourmaline’s disappearance. There is a lot in Elizabeth and Zenobia that recalls the classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I felt the same excitement and anticipation reading Elizabeth and Zenobia’s discovery of Witheringe House and its secrets as I did reading Mary Lennox’s journey through the gloomy moors of Misselthwaite Manor. As Elizabeth and Zenobia explore the forbidden East Wing of the house further, the dread and mystery slowly builds, and by the time I reached the end of the book my heart was racing and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I loved Elizabeth and Zenobia. It’s the perfect book for 12-year-old readers (and maybe some very brave 11-year-olds) who are looking for a simple, good-old-fashioned scary manor mystery. I cannot wait to hand-sell it.
Dani Solomon is a bookseller at Readings Carlton