Monday, August 15, 2022

Today's read... Eden's Everdark by Karen Strong

Isn't the cover on today's read gorgeous? That might be why I was eager to get my hands on it...well, that and the blurb. It takes place in the South on an island, where there's a haunted mansion. Add a touch of magic, a world of dead souls, and a witch, and I was definitely intrigued.

This one comes out September 6th, so it's not too long of a wait. 

by Karen Strong
Simon & Schuster
Middle Grade Fantasy
ages 8 to 12


Still grieving the loss of her mother, Eden visits Safina Island, her ancestral home, as a healing balm. But when she discovers an old sketchbook that belonged to her mother, she’s haunted by the images she sees drawn there. A creepy mansion covered with roots and leaves. A monstrous dog with dagger-sharp teeth. And a tall woman with wind-blown hair and long, sharp nails who is as beautiful as she is terrifying.

Days later, exploring the island alone, Eden follows a black cat through a rift in the bright day. She stumbles into Everdark, a parallel world where the sun never rises, where spirits linger between death and the afterlife, and where everything from her mother’s drawings is all too real—especially the Witch of Everdark, who wants to make Eden her eternal daughter.

Can Eden find a way to defeat the witch’s magic? Or will she remain trapped in Everdark forever?



What starts out as a desire to meet family and gain footing after the loss of a mother turns into a trip to another realm, where death and magic refuse to let anyone go.

After her mother's passing, Eden has finally convinced her father to take her to meet her mother's side of the family. Her mother avoided returning to her home on the island, despite Eden's father claiming they are kind, warm-hearted people. And he isn't wrong. The family is more than excited to meet Eden and accept her without a second's thought. The island is also a wonderful place, where tourists enjoy frequenting. But when Eden discovers her mother's old sketchbook, the nightmares begin. The family claims they are nothing more than her mother's imagination, but also admit that the island and it's mansion, no doubt, hold too many tortured souls. Little do they realize that a witch has taken over the spirit world, which runs parallel to reality on the island. When Eden takes a walk between the trees, she accidentally stumbles through a rift between the worlds. Now, she's stuck in the Everdark and the witch refuses to let her go.

The setting is a real treat with the moss, trees, and humid climate that only the South can offer. This not only lays the perfect background for the haunted mansion and wild surroundings of the Everdark, but also makes meeting family for the first time a true adventure. The author has built a nice contrast between reality and the Everdark, one full of life and warmth, while the other holds darkness and evil. It was fun to venture through the different scenes. Plus, the Southern foods and culture were like added icing to a cake.

Eden comes across like a nice, down-to-earth girl, and it's no problem to understand her desire to learn more about her mother's family. The positive atmosphere the family and their neighbors radiate is inspiring, and makes the reader wish they could visit the island, too. They support each other and offer words of wisdom, which make everything feel like home.

This is a spooky read, but it doesn't feel like one until more than a few chapters in. So, horror fans of this age group might be a bit disappointed, at first, while fantasy/paranormal fans might be surprised at how creepy things get. I think the slide into the scarier side was nicely done and let the reader get a handle on Eden and her reality first. I would have liked some scenes more built out than they were (such as the festival happens but we never really get to see it, or the days in Everdark fly by, at first, but it's not clear what Eden's doing the entire time), but this is a well-written read and does flow smoothly with a quick-pace. It does keep the reader at the edge of their seat, wondering how Eden will make it through.

Fans of paranormal and fantasy with a creepy twist will enjoy this one quite a bit. 

And here she is...

Born and raised in the rural South, Karen Strong spent most of her childhood wandering the woods, meadows, and gardens on her grandmother’s land. She developed a deep adoration of books from her weekly visits to the public library. A graduate of the University of Georgia, she is an advocate of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). An avid lover of strong coffee, yellow flowers, and night skies, Karen currently lives in Atlanta. You can find her online at

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