Elizabeth And Zenobia by Jessica Miller
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Summary:Abandoned by her mother and neglected by her scientist father, timid Elizabeth Murmur has only her fearless friend, Zenobia, for company. And Zenobia’s company can be very trying! When Elizabeth’s father takes them to live in his family home, Witheringe House, Zenobia becomes obsessed with finding a ghost in the creepy old mansion and forces Elizabeth to hold séances and wander the rooms at night. With Zenobia’s constant pushing, Elizabeth investigates the history of the house and learns that it does hold a terrible secret: Her father’s younger sister disappeared from the grounds without a trace years ago.
*Received ARC from a festival
My Rating:★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: Elizabeth And Zenobia is a unique middle-grade read! The plot is unique, the gothic + light paranormal atmosphere, and the writing brings so much to this story!
Elizabeth And Zenobia really surprised me! While I knew I would enjoy the story based off the summary, the more I read, the more I really fell in love with this book!
The story starts of with Elizabeth Murmur talking about Witheringe House, her father’s childhood home and the place she’d soon be moving into!
As she waits for the train with her father (a botanist), we get introduced to Zenobia, her imaginary + best friend. She is shown to have quite an opposite personality to Elizabeth (more outgoing/adventurous, etc.) and while at times they had their small clashes, they really made a great duo and seeing those stark differences between the two added a great element to the story!
They board the train and head to the house! It is also revealed that Elizabeth’s mother had left for some time and its clear it took a toll not only on her father, but her as well. Especially, in the beginning we see the somewhat distant father/daughter relationship they have!
It was really interesting to read about how she learned more about her father’s grief and learning a little more about him through reading some of his published books as a botanist.
Over the course of the novel, the story really focuses on Elizabeth’s personal growth/confidence she gains, learning more about her father, and continuing to grow the connection she has with Zenobia as they spend their time going on all kinds of adventures throughout their stay in the Witheringe House.
I felt the writing was so atmospheric and detailed, with such few pages! I loved it~ It was definitely one of my favorite aspects about the book! It was a very descriptive and atmospheric 1st person POV. Characters, writing, atmosphere and plot all flowed so well. Additionally, it really weaved in the light gothic, paranormal, and mystery elements seamlessly. It felt like the perfect October read!
With most books I can usually tell where the plot’s headed, but with this book it was unexpected and I was left surprised with each turn of the page! That made me love this book so much more as I continued reading.
Originally, this was going to be 4 stars b/c I still feel the pacing was pretty slow for me towards the middle and because of that I put down the book for a few weeks & didn’t get back to finishing it until recently! The ending also did feel a little bit rushed. However, the more I continued to read I realized just how much I really loved this book!
While her mother is gone, it was so great to read that she was still surrounded by supportive female + motherly figures! Such as Zenobia (though they did get into some trouble every now and again) and nearing towards the middle, she meets Ms. Clemency, a tutor, who is very kind towards Elizabeth and helps her overcome some internal struggles along the way.
Themes of family, and definitely friendship + personal growth were weaved all throughout this story!
There are also fantasy elements hinted at throughout the book and shown much later, but were so easily weaved into the story and just fit in perfectly! While reading, I could definitely capture the atmosphere and magic of the story through the fantastic writing!
Elizabeth and Zenobia is a light paranormal, but fun and immersive read, perfect for the fall season! It delivers such a unique plot, important themes, fantastic writing, and the perfect atmosphere! Definitely a book to check out if your looking for a fall read or just want to read a unique and immersive middle grade tale!