Release Date: Not sure, but apparently it is being re-released.
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Mimi lives with her parents above her father’s herbalist shop. She hates being Chinese and being teased at school. More than anything she loves to draw, so when her art teacher gives her a box of pastels Mimi is thrilled. These are no ordinary pastels for the inscription on the box warns that they are “A treasure for some, a curse for others”. Mimi is able to draw amazing scenes on the footpath outside her father’s shop and the pastels breathe life into the pictures for those able to see it. When Gemma, her tormentor at school, steals the pastels, Mimi knows she must get them back – not only to keep them safe and their magic intact, but to save Gemma from the pastel’s curse.
I’m going to try and review this one as quickly as possible. Why, you ask? Because I hate writing negative reviews. And well, what I have to say is not good. And I really don’t have a whole lot to say about this book in general. It just kind of…stunk. There it is. But it’s the truth.
Look, I know it’s a kids book, but that doesn’t mean that just because they are kids they don’t care what they read. I think even a child could tell The Garden of Empress Cassia was pretty stinky. The characters were boring and had no life to them. The plot was simple. But it was too simple. Kids aren’t stupid. You can give them a little bit of mystery. Sheesh!
The story was basically written for The Harry Potter set. And I am telling you right now, stick with Harry Potter. Or Fablehaven. Or Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Don’t bother to read this garbage. I would have had more entertainment burning ants on the back porch with a magnifying glass.
Y’all know I am no hater when it comes to writing reviews. But there were just so many missed opportunities for greatness here that I am actually angry while writing this review. It could’ve been beautiful. This could have been a magically Asian story. It should’ve been a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about a different culture. But instead we got a stupid story about a bratty girl and a box of pastels. Apparently the minute she puts one of the pastels into her hand, she turns into Vincent Van Gogh and can draw a magical lifelike garden on a sidewalk. Yeah I didn’t buy it either. Then, if you are a person who needs assistance, all you have to do is read the inscription at the bottom of the drawing and you are sucked into the garden like rotten vegetables down a garbage disposal.
I could rant and rave forever, but basically when it comes down to it, the book was just very flat and it had absolutely no life. And that’s about all that needs to be said. The concept was stupid, it didn’t work, and the story was completely unmemorable. I finished this about three days ago, and I have already forgotten the characters’ names.