DISCLAIMER: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions herein are of my own.
Author: Matthew S. Cox
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Ten-year-old Emma doesn't believe in faerie tales or monsters that secret children away in the night--until she meets one.
She lives in a quiet village at the edge of Widowswood with her parents, her Nan, and her little brother, Tam. Ready to abandon the whimsy of childhood, she finds the boredom of chores comforting and Nan's fanciful bedtime stories silly.
One morning, a wan and weary older girl staggers out of the woods and sets the entire town aflutter with whispers of a child-stealing monster lurking in the forest. Nan tells her of the Banderwigh: a dark soul who feeds on sorrow and drains the life from children's tears.
Darkness comes calling on Emma's happy home, threatening the reality to which she desperately clings. The impossible becomes more and more real, forcing Emma to reach inside herself for the ability to believe. Her family depends on it.
Growing up, I absolutely loved fairy tales. This book took me back into the traditional style of story-telling. It also transports you back into a place with no running water, when people still made clothing by hand and it was the norm, and when guards patrolled the town with their swords to keep the townspeople safe. Cox uses amazing description to pull children into his world easily.
The main character, Emma, is wise beyond her years, and she is an extremely brave little soul. She is a perfect role model for younger readers, teaching compassion throughout the whole story. The rest of the characters are very well thought out and all have their own quirks which made me like all of them instantly.
This book can deal with some issues that aren't suitable for children who haven't been exposed to things like child abuse. A little girl named Kimber in the book is abused by her father, and it's sometimes hard for children to read about if they can't grasp the concept. It would be a good idea to sit your child down before they read this and explain that these things happen to children and tell them that it's nothing to worry about when it comes to them. The monsters within the story are also a cause for concern for children who are frightened easily, but I think it's suitable for children 9 and up. Sometimes stories that don't sugar-coat everything are the best stories.