Monday, June 5, 2023

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with a review of The Carrefour Curse by Dianne K. Salerni

The Carrefour Curse by Dianne K. Salerni
Publisher:  Holiday House
Format:  E-book
Number of pages: 224 pages
Published:  January 31st, 2023
Source:  Edelweiss +

Opening Line: "You’d think spitting up frogs would be a lot like the worst stomach flu you’ve ever had, but it’s surprisingly different. "

Garnet's mom owns a magic shop and they both have the magical ability to hear the secret song of the gemstones and crystals that they sell.  That is until the current mishap that has befallen Garnet silences them.  Garnet has always desired to meet her mom's side of the family, she's heard all the stories, but her mom has never taken her to the family's estate, Crossroad House.  Which is how Garnet ended up cursing herself, and the whole spitting up frog's thing got started.  Who would have thought that getting in the way of her mom's protection spell would rebound in such a disgusting manner?  But in the end, Garnet's plan worked and now she finally gets her wish.  But Crossroad House isn't quite what Garnet expected.  For one the house is really run down, with parts of it still needing to be rebuilt from the fire that happened a long time ago.  Then there are her relatives, an extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins that she's never met before, and who do not all get along.  Not to mention they are the ones who have been hinting, threating and finally summoned her mom to return to the family estate.  Which explains why her mom has been in a self-exile from the place, well that and apparently her aunt saw an omen before Garnet was born that made her mom leave the estate for good.  

Lucky for Garnet her aunt's possess plant and air magic which help to cure her frog problem, but they're also now trapped at the estate because there is a source that doesn't want them to leave.  Is it the house itself?  Then Uncle Flint, the historian of the family dies, and everyone begins to suspect Garnet's great grandfather Jasper might have drawn out all of his life energy to keep himself younger.  But Jasper is supposed to "transition" soon and give his ring and powers to a successor, but he doesn't seem to want to give it up just yet.  At the same time, Garnet uncovers the premonition that her mom is so concerned about and suddenly, she learns that she can travel in time, and possess someone's else's body.  At first, it's kind of exciting to see her mom as a teenager, but then she starts to learn about a girl who disappeared at the estate in the summer of 1998 and starts to wonder if there is a link between the fire in 1892 that cost three of her families lives and injured two of them, and the girl who disappeared.  Can Garnet use her new found ability to travel back in time and fix the past?  And can she stop her aunt's premonition before she too disappears.  

The Carrefour Curse has been described as The Addams Family meets The Westing Game, and I quite like that description. 
It also seems that the inspiration for the story was the Dark Shadows TV series that the author used to watch as a kid with her mom.  There's this really old house that is crumbling and dilapidated.  Yet also mysterious and dangerous.  I do so love old houses and this one sounds scary.  Then there's the mystery about who's trapping the family at the estate, is it Jasper or the house itself?  Or is it because of the ley lines holding their families magic and forcing them to stay until the transition is complete?  Oh, and Jasper, he makes for an interesting character too.  Leeching off of his family to preserve himself, just creepy.  Conjures up the idea of a vampire.  

I enjoyed how the beginning of each chapter features a gemstone and relates facts about their color and magical properties.  I also enjoyed the magical system where some family members use plants, or air, water and even fire.  Even Garnet and her mom's ability to hear the songs of their gemstones.  I also like how their names are matched with their abilities.  Like Garnet, Emerald, Ash, Holly and Rose, etc.  Truthfully, I liked all of Garnet's family.  Her cousins were really sweet and I'm glad there wasn't any drama between them.  It was fun watching them get closer and Garnet learning about her family's history.  Overall, this was a lovely mystery with creepy vibes and made for a quick read.  

I hope you'll check out all the other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge's blog HERE


  1. I really want to read this one! I've read another book by this author, and I really liked it. Your review makes me want to bump it up to the top of my reading list. :) Happy MMGM!

  2. I hadn't seen this book before, but it sounds like a really enjoyable and intriguing fantasy story! Thanks so much for the thoughtful review, Brenda!

  3. I loved Dark Shadows as a kid too. This sounds like a book I'd enjoy. Thanks for sharing it with us this week.

  4. I read this book a few months ago, and I enjoyed it a lot. It definitely has creepy overtones!! I liked all the different elements of the story, the family dynamics, the mystery of the past, the magic, etc. Glad you liked it too!

  5. Any book that begins with spitting up frogs has my attention! As an Addams Family fan, I know I'm going to have to read this one. It sounds like the perfect mix of fairy tale and creepy tail.

  6. Thanks for this comprehensive review, Brenda. I bet lots of kids will like it.

  7. Your enticing review has me anxious to read this unique story. The characters and setting are especially appealing. I'm also looking forward to reading your next MMGM review as I can get to it a little earlier in the week.