Upon finishing this book I was left with two main impressions. The first is: Wow! These illustrations are lush, beautiful, and drop dead gorgeous. Second, I both love and hate this cliffhanger ending.
The story is a remake of Jack and the Beanstalk. It is set in modern times, and Jack has a special needs sister who rarely speaks. While at a farmers market, Jack trades the family car for a box of magical seeds. His mother is not pleased. When they are home, Maddy and Jack prepare the ground and plant the seeds. What sprouts is a magical and deadly dangerous garden. It seems determined to devour them. The two children become friends with their neighbor, Lilly, an intrepid girl with all kinds of warrior skills.
These are amazing characters. They are complicated enough to keep the reader wondering. I admired Jack, an excellent older brother, who in spite of his attitude, and that he is duty bound, obviously loves his younger sister deeply. I am loaded with questions about Maddy. What is going on with her anyway and why doesn't she talk? Their single parent mother struggles realistically to make ends meet as she works two jobs and raises the two children. Then there is Lilly, the warrior girl, who calls Jack out when she doesn't approve of his behaviour. I am even intrigued by the evil seed merchant and can't help but wonder if he will return in a sequel.
And that garden! It is creepy, terrifying and marvellous all at the same time. Eating the fruits of it gives the children super powers. I need to know much more about where it comes from and what's its purpose.