Daisy knows that there’s a whole word beyond the gates of Brightwood, but she’s never been there. That’s ok, though, because she has everything she needs at home, including a talking pet rat named Tar. But one day Daisy’s mom disappears during a trip to the store, and a mysterious visitor arrives – and he seems to be getting more menacing every day.
This is a book that, had I read it as a child, I think that I would have found it delightful, imagination-inspiring, and just scary enough. As an adult, I found it a little disturbing.
Daisy’s imaginary friends at Brightwood are charming and obnoxious and not actually helpful at all. Her house is a cluttered landscape of “dayboxes”, piled on shelves that have turned the mansion into a nearly unnavigable labyrinth. Daisy’s mother has hoards of food stored in the basement. The yard at Brightwood has fallen into disrepair, turning the lawn into a meadow filled with woodland creatures.
While reading this book, adult-me knew there were so many things wrong. Daisy’s mother clearly needs some psychiatric help – the hoarding combined with the fact that Daisy has never been allowed to leave the house prove that. Also the fact that there was clearly no telephone (at least a functional one) on the premises that Daisy could use to call for help when the intruder came.
But I know that a child reading this would absolutely love this book. It’s darkly whimsical, and has just enough danger to keep you invested. I can just see eight year old me playing “Brightwood” after reading this book – exploring the “wilds” of my backyard, imagining that a mysterious cousin has arrived and appears to be taking over the house.
Brightwood is a captivating, enchanting story, and would be a perfect read to help 8-11 year olds beat that “summer slide”.