Synopsis: Eden was its name. “An alternative school for happy children.” But it closed in disgrace after a student’s suicide. Now it’s a care home, its grounds neglected and overgrown. Gloria Baroness is its only neighbor, staying close to her son who lives there in the home, lighting up her life and breaking her heart each day.
When a childhood friend turns up at her door, Gloria doesn’t hesitate before asking him in. He claims a girl from Eden is stalking him and has goaded him into meeting her at the site of the suicide. Only then, the dead begin to speak–“it was murder”, they say.
Gloria is in over her head before she can help it. Her lonloneliness, her loyalty, and her all-consuming love for her son lead her into the heart of a dark secret that threatens everything she lives for.
This is one of those books that I would have given a higher rating to except for a couple of issues. The first is, despite the synopsis and a promising set-up, any supernatural elements are only hinted at and quickly dropped. Not all my books have to fall into the paranormal genre, but don’t tease me with something only to not follow through.
My second issue is with Gloria, who despite my best efforts, I could not relate to at all. Her son suffers from PKNR which stands for pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration and is a long, drawn out tortuous way to die. His illness is never explained in the book so I had to Google it. Her lovely ex-husband bailed on both of them, and her family, which consists of a sister and mother, are horror shows, so Gloria has absolutely no support system. Because of these factors she should have come across as a sympathetic figure, but instead she wound up not only annoying the heck out of me, but also making me feel guilty at the same time. There’s a couple of things that lead me to believe she has some kind of obsessive disorder. She constantly says Nickys name, and while I understand and admire her love and devotion to her her son, it’s over-the-top. Even when she’s in the middle of one of the few action scenes, she either brings him up in conversation, or is randomly thinking about him. There’s also the way she’s constantly correcting Stig, her childhood friend who she’s agreed to help. For example; every single time Stig would refer to past events as happening thirty years ago, Gloria had to correct him by saying it was twenty-eight years. After a few times of this I just wanted to say “For God’s sake woman! Just let it go!”
I actually wound up liking Stig much more. He’s an affable kind of guy who wants to do the right thing and winds up being completely in over his head. He’s also unbelievably patient with Gloria and all her little quirks.
The actual mystery is intriguing and while there’s not a ton of action, there’s enough to keep you turning the pages. I love mysteries that go back to something which occured in the characters childhood, and this one was imaginative and well written. There’s quite the twist at the end and the villain wasn’t at all who I was expecting which was also a plus. The Child Garden actually reminded me of a slightly longer than usual cozy mystery, so if you’re a fan of this genre I recommend you curl up with this some chilly night in your favorite comfy chair, while you enjoy a glass of wine, or a nice cup of tea.