The Dark Garden (1995), by Margaret Buffie

Once again Margaret Buffie has created a narrative situation that permits the revelation of the adolescent experience from a unique and effective perspective.  In The Dark Garden, Thea is suffering from temporary amnesia brought on by an accident on her bike.  We meet her as she begins to discover herself—without a history, but with a strong sense of self—just before she leaves the hospital. Her family is fairly normal: an over-achieving mother, a kind but somewhat ineffective father, a slightly younger sister who seems to resent her, a four-year-old sister who dotes on her, and a part-time housekeeper who resents the extra work Thea’s problem creates.  To add to Thea’s problems, she is hearing voices in her head, and seeing visions of her new home that are not quite right.  As she begins to relearn who she is, Thea struggles to solve the mysteries that surround her: the source of her secret knowledge of the house, who the voices are that speak to her, and why her family functions the way it does.
Thea’s amnesia is a well-crafted vehicle for revealing the adolescent struggle with a developing personality. Thea has to learn to cope not only with who she knows herself to be inside, but also with the person others remember and are expecting. The separation of these two aspects of self—internal and projected—allows young adult readers to glean a comprehension of how they might be perceived by others in their world. Margaret Buffie handles this difficult dynamic admirably: we truly believe in Thea’s amnesia, in her family’s responses to her, and in her own work at integrating the two Theas into one.  Our belief in the characters within the contemporary setting of the story facilitate a belief in the paranormal aspects of the narrative, the style for which Buffie is so well known in the Canadian Children’s Literature world. I don’t want to go deeply into the paranormal aspects of the plot, as I hate spoilers; suffice it to say that it is up to Buffie’s usual standards, remaining within the realms of possibility with only the slightest suspension of disbelief.


One comment on “The Dark Garden (1995), by Margaret Buffie

  1. Margaret says:


    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and beautifully written review of “The Dark Garden”. I am always excited by a review that let’s me know the reviewer understood what I was attempting to do in a novel. And you got it! You have a beautiful blog.
    I am adding photos and more information to my new blog and I am especially having fun working on images for “The Dark Garden”. It’s a slow process, but one I am really enjoying.
    Thank you, again!

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