Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Judith Rossell
Illustrator: Judith Rossell
Publisher: Atheneum Book for Young Readers
After Stella’s harrowing adventures at Withering-by-Sea, her rich aunts banish her to the dilapidated family estate, Wormwood Mire. Stella is joined there by two foreign cousins, Strideforth and Hortense, and a governess. Piecing together clues from her and an ancestor’s past, Stella discovers a monster has been living underneath Wormwood and it can escape into the local forest. Stella, Strideforth, Hortense, and the grandson to Wormwood’s housekeeper, Jem, unwittingly attract the monster and they escape it by fleeing into the forest. Unfortunately, the children are kidnapped by a traveling, freak-show doctor, Mr. Flint. Flint wants Stella for his exhibition because of her disappearing powers. Working together the children trick the doctor and he is destroyed by the monster. While in the forest, Stella finally learns that her mother was killed by the monster but her twin sister, Luna, is still alive.
The second book to Rossell’s illustrated series starts off as a quietly foreboding tale as Stella begins her new life at Wormwood Mire. This book continues the beautiful development of Stella's character. Constantly running through Stella’s head are the outrageously menacing tales from the book "The Garden of Lilies: Improving Tales for Young Minds." Her aunts gave Stella this book to frighten Stella into improving her “bad” behavior. Even when Stella is officially out of her aunts’ clutches, their stingy strictness follows Stella wherever she goes and rules whatever she does. But their icy influence start to thaw inside Stella because of the warm kindness of Strideforth and Hortense. Their familial friendship sparks Stella into thinking for herself again and rekindles the courage, intelligence, and fortitude Stella had during her adventures in Withering-by-Sea. A strong sequel to solidify Stella’s deliciously complex character.