Saturday, January 27, 2018

Review: The Children in the Garden by R.A. Douthitt

by R. A. Douthitt
Middle Grade Mystery/Thriller
414 pages

Now that Mikey and his friends have solved the mystery of the children under the ice, they are off to solve another murder mystery with the help of a little girl ghost and her dark secret of the children in the garden. Can Mikey catch the killer before he hurts what he loves most...his family? Or will the killer catch him first? Find out in this thrilling sequel to The Children Under the Ice!

This series is the
Winner of the Moonbeam Children's Books Award 
Bronze Medal


This is a wonderful mystery, which holds all of the thrills, chills and intrigue while still keeping it perfect for the middle grade audience.

Mikey has solved the first mystery, The Children Under the Ice, and is waiting to play his part in the up-coming trial—something he's pretty nervous about. But when a ghost appears, it's clear he won't have time to dwell on his fears. The girl needs Mikey's help to solve not only her own death, but that of several boys as well. The case isn't nearly as clear cut as the first one, and soon Mikey finds himself wrapped up in more murders and clues than he bargained for. If he isn't careful, not only could the killer escape, but he and his entire family might become the next victims.

I love this series! The author masterfully weaves a murder mystery which holds all the excitement of an adult mystery, but sizes it down just right for kids. Mikey and his friends come across as an average group of kids not only in the relationships, but the way the handle things, joke around or even get on each other's nerves. Mikey might be able to communicate with ghosts (at times) but he still comes across as normal as the kid next door. He makes decision as best he can, values his family and friends more than anything else, stumbles through things like everyone else.

There's never a dull moment in this book. Every scene locks the reader in and offers more to the mystery. Levels upon levels of secrets, twists and turns make it hard to guess where the entire thing will end. Some aspects are predictable letting readers have the satisfaction of knowing they were right, while other twists lead to completely unexpected results. In this book, there is a little more paranormal fantasy built in, which gives the mystery an interesting twist.

In many ways, this borders on a thriller and maybe even the horror end of things, keeping a creepy and tense air the entire way through. But it never goes too dark. The murderer is dangerous and the threat real, but it doesn't tip into violence or gore. Even the ghosts, despite the danger they pose, have borders which keep the scary moments from going overboard. The tension remains high, and not once does the author talk down to the readers but meets them on their level.

In other words, this is perfect for mystery and ghost loving middle graders who are ready to dive into a serious murder mystery and sink into an exciting adventure.

 And here she is. . .

R. A. Douthitt is the Moonbeam Award-winning author of the Children series and The Dragon Forest trilogy. She resides in Arizona with her husband and their little fat dog. 


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

It's funny: I don't like "horror" as a genre, but I do love ghost stories, even creepy ones. This sounds like a good one!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

BTW: your "Celebrate the Small Things" post took me to a message that your page doesn't exist. You might want to check out what went wrong with Blogger.

Ruth Douthitt said...

Oh good! I hope you and your kids enjoy the series. It's a lot like Stranger Things or The Goonies.

Ruth Douthitt said...

Thank you so much for the review!! I had so much fun writing this series. I'm glad you enjoyed the second book.