They were met with a view of a large garden, but unlike the welcoming front of the house, now flowers bloomed and no bumblebees buzzed. Everything was dark and drenched in shadow because of what lay to the left – a gigantic tree that loomed over the entire garden and the house itself. Immy’s breath caught in her throat and her heart began to race as her eyes slowly travelled up its thick, gnarled trunk.
When Immy and her parents travel to England for a fresh start, they desperately want to rent a country cottage with a garden. But the only house that meets their brief has a downside: a mysterious mulberry tree in its backyard. Village lore has it that the tree is responsible for the disappearance of two girls, each of whom vanished on the eve of her eleventh birthday. Although the two disappearances were almost two hundred years apart, the legend surrounding the tree is such that the whole village mistrusts the tree, and girls are kept well away. But Immy’s parents don’t believe the tales, and Immy herself feels drawn to the cottage and to the mystery of the tree, and soon the family is trying to rebuild their lives in their new home. Still, as Immy’s eleventh birthday draws close, and Immy hears and sees things that aren’t really there, she wonders if she can solve the mystery or if she, too, will fall victim to the tree.
The Mulberry Tree is an engaging, but eerie novel for younger readers, who will love th supernatural elements. The blend of creepy, frightening moments with realistic, everyday problems and warm moments is a satisfying mix, suitable for middle and primary aged readers. The English setting will also appeal, adding tot he sense of displacement felt by the protagonist and adding interest for the reader.
The Mulberry Tree, by Allison Rushby
Walker Books, 2018
‘I…’ I begin to argue, but my dad stops me, leaning forward over the table.
‘Miri, it would be unwise of me to say too much for both our sakes, but I will say this: there are things I used to be involved in – that I used to believe in – that I am no longer involved in or believe in. If you proceed with your current course, there are things I cannot help you with. Matters in which I would be more of a hindrance to you than a help if you were to call upon me. Do you understand what I’m saying?’
Miri should be in high school, but her brilliance and aptitude for medicine have seen her placed in an elite college program and invited to be part of an international secret society. She is thrilled to be part of the Society,and eager to engage in the opportunities it offers – especially the chance to do her own research, unhampered by the need for ethics approvals. But when her research proposal is accepted, she finds herself whisked away to a secret location where she must compete with other young researchers. Miri’s experiment means she is awake night after night , giving the opportunity to see that not everything at the research centre is at it seems. As her doubts grow, she isn’t sure who she can trust, or even if she’ll get out alive.
The Fifth Room is a blend of mystery, romance and psychological thriller. A fairly easy read, it explores concepts surrounding moral dilemmas in an intriguing setting.
The Fifth Room, by A. J. Rushby
Ro couldn’t help herself. However rude it might be, she continued to stare, then reached out and touched the girl on the arm. “You are real,” she said quietly. “It was just…I was wondering if this was some kind of odd dream.”
“Perhaps it is,” Thalia said quite calmly. “Though I’ve never had a dream before where I’ve been told I’m a triplet and it ha turned out only a few minutes later to be true.” She shot a look at her brother’s retreating back.
For seventeen years Thalia, Erato and Clio have lived with their adoptive families, each girl unaware that she is one of a set of triplets, separated after their mother died in childbirth. Now they have been reunited by their aunt, Hestia, who believes they have been wrongly denied their mother’s estate. She wants the girls to work together to claim what is rightfully theirs. But working together is not easy for three girls who have just met, and harder still when each has a reason for needing the inheritance.
As they get to know their new-found aunt, and each other, the girls struggle to figure out who they can trust. It seems they can’t even trust each other.
The Heiresses is an intriguing story of family, betrayal and more, with an element of mystery and loads of tension. Suitable for a new adult and adult audience,and set in 1925 London, there is lots to like about the story and its three diverse, feisty heroines.
The Heiresses, by Allison Rushby
Pan Macmillan , 2013
Available from good bookstores or online.
All right, all right. I have to admit it – even for me, little Miss Uber-surly, this is all a tiny bit exciting. Just a tiny bit, mind you. I mean, even though I don’t watch the show, you always see bits and pieces of it on the ads, don’t you? You still hear about it on the news and from friends and stuff. And this is it. Actually it. The kitchen. Romy and Anoushka’s kitchen. The kitchen that millions and millions of viewers all over the world see when they tune into Rich Girls every Sunday night.
Ellie thinks she is the only person who doesn’t think the Rich Girls are hot. Sure, they might have their own reality television show, but surely Romy and Anoushka are over-rated. They are gorgeous, rich and have never worked a day in their lives. What’s so good about that?
Ellie is about to find out, because her mum, chef to the stars, has been employed to be their personal chef. Ellie finds herself first in New York and then in Paris, London and LA as she joins the Rich Girls’ entourage. As well as Elli and her mother, JJ, the blondetourage includes the television production crew, four other teenagers, and their tutor. Being part of such a group is bound to have its problems, but Elli soon discovers that even the rich girls are not all that they seem. Is being rich all that it’s made out to be? And could it be that Elli can help the girls?
Blondetourage is a humorous but insightful look into life behind the facade of reality TV, and deals with issues common to many teens, including friendship and a search for identity. It also has plenty of interest, with diverse settings and a range of teen and adult characters. Suitable for teenage girls aged twelve and over.
Blondetourage, by Allison Rushby
Random House , 2008
this book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.