As far as kids go, Tobias and Charlotte Eggers are precocious. Since their mother died, their father and a succession of nannies have raised them. The nanny they now have, Martha Childress, is definitely not going to win any awards for popularity with the Eggers children. When a trick involving tadpoles and gravy goes horribly wrong, the siblings anger their father. He punishes them by dropping them off near a spooky, old building named Witherwood. Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye is the story of the sibling’s time at the school and their father’s efforts to get them back.
It is clear there is something wrong at Witherwood. The kids are treated like servants, given severely limited freedoms, and are surrounded by scary people. An escape attempt reveals just how unusual Witherwood is. Tobias and Charlotte receive no help from the adults at the school either—including one who seems to have perfected the art of mind control.
First, let me say from the outset that this book has no clear ending. It is merely the first in a series of adventures for the Eggers siblings. The other thing it does not have is many answers or explanations for what is happening. This was a problem for me, and I sense that it would also be a problem for many young readers. They like to have the answers to at least some of their questions, and Witherwood Reform School provides none. It’s just one fantastical occurrence after another.
That is not to say there are not some things to like here. The mischievousness of the siblings is something middle readers will love, and the fantasy aspects of the story would be interesting to young readers. In some ways, Witherwood reminds me of the island in The Mysterious Benedict Society, another series about a mysterious location and a malevolent force.
The twists and turns, near misses, and spooky, dark atmosphere of the book are appealing to kids. I am just not sure that they would want to continue the series without understanding the WHY of any of the fantastic events
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina