By: Allison Rushby
Published on: July 14, 2020
Out of all the genres and subgenres I enjoy, spooky and haunting middle grade stories are among my absolute favorites. Within them are narratives that invite the child in you to be a little scared and spooked, but without being too gory or graphic. Similar to Agatha Christie using poems to help add eerieness to her mysteries such as she did in The Crooked House and Then There Were None, the author of The Mulberry Tree helps set the tone by a poem/song the kids sing when they don’t think the adults are around – a very chilling poem on how the tree will ‘take your daughters…one, two, three.”
The Mulberry Tree tells the story of a small family moving to the UK from Australia. Like most families who move, they need to find a place to live. After every house they look at doesn’t quite feel right they spot one that one that the realtor didn’t want to show them, but seems to have everything they could want. The problem? The mulberry tree in the yard has previously taken two girls on the eve of their 11th birthdays – the girls were never to be seen again. Obviously, to the family moving in this is just ancient folklore because trees do not take children, but to everyone else in the town this is very, very real.
In the end, I didn’t feel as many spooks as I had hoped, and never felt a great sense of trepidation, but I am also not the target audience. But while the main narrative is about a restless tree, it is also a story about guilt, depression, and forgiveness that was handled very well and added quite a bit of heart to the story. And as the story concludes you feel very satisfied as a reader.
Rating: 4 stars
Is the eerie tree beside their bucolic cottage really a threat to ten-year-old Immy? Legend and hearsay give way to a creepy series of events in a captivating mystery.
Do naught wrong by the mulberry tree, or she’ll take your daughters . . . one, two, three.
Ten-year-old Immy and her family have run away from their storm cloud of problems to a tiny village in Cambridgeshire, England, where her depressed physician father can take a sabbatical and get back on his feet. Luckily, they find an adorable thatched cottage to begin a new life in. But their new home comes with one downside: in the backyard, there is an ancient, dark, and fierce-looking mulberry tree that has ceased bearing any fruit. There’s a legend that the towering tree steals away girls who live in the cottage on the eve of their eleventh birthday, and villagers even cross the street when they pass by the house. Of course, Immy thinks this is all ridiculous. But then she starts to hear a strange song in her head. . . . In a page-turner perfect for middle-graders, Allison Rushby folds themes of new-school travails, finding friends, being embarrassed by parents, and learning empathy into a deliciously goose-bumpy supernatural mystery.