Midori Snyder,
Hannah's Garden
(Viking, 2002)

Midori Snyder's long-awaited new novel Hannah's Garden, originally slated for Brian Froud's sadly defunct Faerielands series, is an absorbing, magical and musical story.

Cassie Brittman is a promising, 17-year-old violinist preparing for a recital when her mother, Anne, tells her that Poppie, Cassie's beloved grandfather, is in the hospital. The two head north along with Anne's new boyfriend, Gunnar, to the farm where Anne grew up.

The house is in terrible condition, as is the spiral garden planted by Hannah, Cassie's great-grandmother. Poppie is in intensive care, and until now, a man named Melvin Steiger is supposed to have been helping him. It doesn't take long for Cassie to figure out that Melvin intends more harm than help.

Melvin isn't the only mystery Cassie faces. The gray-haired fiddler Cassie knows from the music sessions in her hometown shows up at the farm, and furthermore, the man seems to know Anne and Poppie. Apparently, he also knew Hannah, as Cassie learns from reading Hannah's journal. Cassie discovers a stone statue of a winter hare buried in the garden, and she finds the presence of the little statue oddly comforting. She also sees curious little twiggy figures skittering through the woods, and a strange, beautiful and frightening boy on a motorcycle pursues her relentlessly.

When Cassie finally learns the truth about Hannah and her garden, Poppie, Anne and herself, she has to make a choice in order to save not only herself and her family but the delicate balance of the Border between two worlds.

Snyder writes with strong sensory imagery, especially sounds and scents. She portrays each scene vividly, and the characters are well-rounded and credible. Snyder establishes the relationships among the characters deftly and avoids dating the story with pop-culture references.

Hannah's Garden is a rich and timeless novel with a strong appeal to teens and adults alike. It should take a well-deserved place among fantasy classics.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 13 July 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.