“’There’s something hidden in the maze.’
Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.
For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.
Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.”
Well, judging by all the other reviews of this book, this is a “love it or hate it” type of novel. Either you overlook some of the novel’s sillier aspects and enjoy it for what it is, or those silly things bother you to the point that you can’t stand the story. Me, I fell into the former camp. I know that this isn’t the most tightly plotted story I’ve read, but I still liked it. It reminded me (and many others) as something like The Princess Diaries crossed with Rebecca, with a smidgen of The Secret Garden through in for spice.
That, I think, is what made the novel work for me: it hearkened back to other stories that have meant something to me in the past. It felt… familiar in a low-key, pleasant way. No, this book isn’t going to win any awards for originality, but sometimes the comfort of the well-known is a pleasure all its own.
I do agree that some things could have been explored more deeply. This novel is fairly lean, even at 304 pages, and I would have loved to see some more time devoted to the magic going on herein and to the history of Rockford Manor. That’s the appeal of this kind of story–that sense of history and connection with the past. It’s what makes stories like Rebecca so tantalizing: we as readers are eager to find out the secrets and the skeletons lurking in the closets. Monir could have definitely worked with that a little more.
If you have fond memories of children’s novels set on the wild English moors, you’ll probably enjoy this book. I personally found enough nostalgia in its pages that I’m sure to go back and read it again.