Review of Sisters of the Lost Marsh

Sisters of the Lost Marsh Sisters of the Lost Marsh
by Lucy Strange
Intermediate, Middle School    Chicken House/Scholastic    304 pp.
1/23    9781338686463    $18.99

Because of a (fictional) traditional rhyme that claims—or threatens—six motherless sisters’ destinies according to birth order, their violent, often-drunk Dadder trades the beautiful eldest, Grace, as wife in exchange for a horse. When Grace escapes to avoid her fate and disappears with the seasonal fair, Willa, the second sister, sets off to fetch her back. Pursued by Dadder and his nasty fiancé, Willa and the horse traverse marsh and mire to retrieve Grace and, somehow, persuade Dadder to undo her betrothal. But Willa can’t find Grace with the fair: could it be she has become prey to the fabled Marsh King? Strange (The Ghost of Midnight Lake, rev. 3/22) draws on the horror of folktales of Britain’s Romney Marsh in this quasi-medieval gothic fantasy. Girls are at the mercy of their fathers; reading is suspect; clever, articulate elders are punished with the ­ducking stool or murdered as witches. The story has a strong “and then” quality, as Willa rides off now here, now there; there’s a certain ebullience (vigorously enhanced by the irrepressible youngest sisters), a handful of mysteries, and plenty of mire-y, marsh-lit atmosphere to keep readers immersed.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Deirdre Baker
Deirdre F. Baker
Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the past tense.

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