Author: Claire Legrand
Publishers: Simon & Schuster
Release Year: 2012
Victoria is perfect in every way. Her grades are immaculate and her room simply shines. The only blemish on her beautiful life is her one and only friend, Lawrence, who is a sloppy dreamer who adores music and playing on his “wretched piano.” And then one day, when Vicky goes to school, Lawrence isn’t there. Strange, thinks Victoria. All of a sudden, she starts noticing things: adults smiling their overly bright, too-happy smiles. Cockroaches crawling out of people’s homes. People ignoring the fact that Lawrence, as well as a few other children, have disappeared. So, she does what she loves best. Victoria researches. And then she finds out about Mrs. Cavendish’s Home for Boys and Girls. An orphanage… or is it? When she goes to visit, she is greeted by happy children and kind, sweet Mrs. Cavendish, who gives Victoria butterscotch and sends her on her way. However, sinister things keep happening. More disappearances. Her only ally, Professor Alban, being dragged away by the cockroaches. Precocious Victoria decides that she’s had it, and sneaks into the Home. Inside, she finds Lawrence, Jacqueline, and other acquaintances of hers who have been taken. Children who are considered “imperfect” and “strange.” But that’s not all she finds. The Home has a dark secret, and no one who is sent there ever comes back out the same… or comes out at all.
I’ll start off by saying: this is a book you’ll want to read over and over and over! The plot, the concept, the characters, everything about it is simply amazing. Let’s start off with an analysis of the characters. I will admit that they are exaggerated. At times, they are even a little bit— dare I say it? — two-dimensional. BUT… it works! These types of novels often require characters with more exaggerated qualities than those in, maybe, realistic fiction. Another thing is the “shiver-factor.” In other words, it’s scary enough for you to be creeped out for a while, but not enough for you to lose sleep. (Well, okay, maybe just a little…) 😉 In any case, this book is plenty frightening. For one thing, there are quite a few delightfully dreadful deeds in this story. (Let’s just agree that this book made me never want to eat butterscotch again.) And Mrs. Cavendish, sweet, beautiful-looking Mrs. Cavendish, is just such a wonderfully psychopathic antagonist. The horror is written out very well and lasts just long enough for you to fully relish it. (And it’s not gory or overly-disturbing, which is why this book is suitable for the middle-school palate.) Plus, I absolutely loved the gorgeous yet freaky illustrations that accompanied some of the chapters, and I will not lie, it was the cover of this book that immediately drew me to it. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is the perfect nightmarish novel for those of us who aren’t afraid to be scared out of our wits, but also need to know that good will always prevail in the end.
(By the way, what do you think about my new book review format? Do you think it’s better than before? Yes, no? Please do let me know!) 🙂