Monday, December 11, 2017

MMGM- Wormwood Mire by Judith Rossell

Welcome to Middle Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing Wormwood Mire by Judith Rossell. It is the sequel to Withering-by-the Sea. To  check out all the other stops that do Middle Grade Monday check out our new hub at Always in the Middle... by Greg Pattridge.

The Story-
Stella Montgomery lives with her three aunts in the Hotel Majestic. They are raising her to be a proper young lady, not someone who wishes for and participates in adventures.  When a letter arrives from their cousin Frederick in which he tells them that he is sending his own children to the family estate, Wormwood Mire, and would love for Stella to attend with her cousins, they bundle her off with a suitcase and a book, A Garden of Lilies: Improving Tales for young Minds.

Stella is thrilled to get away, not just to leave the Aunts, but because she has hidden in her possession a picture of her mother at Wormwood Mire pushing a perambulator with two twin babies in it. Could it be Stella? and does she have a twin?

Living at the Mire are her cousins, Strideforth and Hortenese, and their Governess. The place is a wreck, not lived in for many years. The land is overgrown with strange plants and animals, for it seems their great-great-great grandfather, Wilbur Montgomery, was an adventurer and collector of oddities.

Dark things are a foot around Wormwood Mire. Strange events have occurred and animals and people have gone missing. There are village rumors about a monster lurking in the woods. As Stella tries to gather clues about her mother and maybe twin sister, a scary creature in the lake makes its presence known.

When Jem, the grounds keeper's son, goes missing, only Stella, Strideforth and Hortenese find the clues that lead to his whereabouts and maybe a monster!

My Thoughts-
Bravo! This book is full of wonder and adventure. Middle graders are sure to love Stella and her cousins as they explore the strange Wormwood Mire and take on monsters in the forest. I had not read the first book in the series, so it was sort of a shock, when around thirty pages in, Stella suddenly mentions that she has fairy blood and can make herself disappear. Whoa! But really glad the author popped that in there because it makes the rest of the book make sense.

One thing I LOVED was the presence of A Garden of  Lilies. Throughout the story Stella mentions this horrible book that her Aunt's gave her and the terrible tales it tells with rhyming morals, such as, "Modesty should be your aim, or you will surely come to shame," or "Greedy children always tend, To meet with a disastrous end." There are tons of them, and all of them are ideas that Stella eventually goes against. They are so funny, I loved it every time they showed up.

Another fun thing about the book is the Governess. Her character is wonderful. Strideforth describes her as the only Governess in the land willing to come to the dilapidated, old Wormwood Mire. She is a true treat. She loves biology and plants and thinks it great when the children go off exploring. She creates poultices from herbs and wants to find killer plants to study.

There is one thing I need to critique and it involves a *****SPOILER***** So, fair warning. At the end of the book, Stella finally finds her twin and they discover their mother has been turned to stone and is a statue in the woods. They both don't seemed overly bothered by this fact, and Stella, who has been on a quest for her Mother the whole time, let's it roll of her shoulder's very easily. I expected some despair or major morning, but nope. Plus, then after only seeing her sister for a couple pages, her sister gets whisked away. What? Why can't they be together? The sister's guardian is fearful, but if Stella is out in the open, why can't her sister be with her?

Oh well, overall I enjoyed this book. It has a mystery, a monster and several fantastical twists. I'm giving this book 4 stars! I hope there is another book, because I really want to know who her mother was fleeing to meet in the woods when she got stopped. A fairy husband perhaps?


  1. Maybe that mom is destined to return in some form. Thanks for the heads-up on this book. It does sound like a book middle grade kids will enjoy.

  2. Your synopsis of the plot really grabbed me. I think I would enjoy this book. There must be a sequel as there are peculiar responses Stella and many unanswered questions about the mother. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I'm highly intrigued, though the plot problems you mention give me pause. I wonder if reading the first would help? Perhaps not, but I think the books sound interesting enough to pick up.

    Thanks so much for featuring them, and happy MMGM!

  4. It sounds to me like there might be another book behind this one, but it also sounds as if that wasn't very deftly handled. Thanks for telling me about it.