George’s life is about to suck even more because school starts next week and he can’t scrape up enough money to pay his cell phone bill let alone the fee to play varsity football. Uncle Morris shows up and offers a creative solution to keep George and his sister together under one roof. It’s a much larger, less leaky roof, with a breathtaking view of the crappy, ramshackle cottage. Crafty Morris reveals a secret tunnel that leads to the mansion and consequently some Vardin family secrets that will make junior year unforgettable.
*May Contain Spoilers*
Maggie Spence shares a story of two lost children adopted by a ragtag group of townsfolk in her family mystery, Vardin Village. Abandoned by their mother, George and Eleanor Vardin try to stay below the radar and makes ends meet until George's eighteenth birthday. When it's discovered that they are alone in the world, odd friendships are formed and a new family is born. But that's just the beginning of the trouble.
There are many main characters in this novel. George and Eleanor are the focus with Morris, Archie, Maria, Dolly, and Reginald supporting and fighting for the two children. George is a sweet teenage boy who doesn't want to be separated from his sister if anyone found out their mom had disappeared. Readers will sympathize with George and wholeheartedly adopt him as a loved character. Eleanor is a little girl who keeps to herself. She immerses herself in novels because they're better than real life. As the characters come together to help the children, readers will see Eleanor come out of her shell more and more.
Morris is a family friend of the Vardins. He was very close to the children's late grandfather. Home from traveling, Morris learns of what the children are going through and wants to help. Readers will appreciate Morris stepping up and taking responsibility for the children. Archie is a funny character. He's pushing elderly and is set in his ways. But he has a change of heart when it comes to the Vardin kids. Readers will experience how the children change Archie for the better. Maria owns the town diner and had a rough childhood. Not wanting the children to experience the same, Maria comes to be a mother figure for the two children. Responsible and caring, readers will enjoy the maternal touches she adds to the story.
Dolly and Reginald live in the Vardin mansion. Dolly has been the housekeeper there for years and Reginald is employed by the city to take care of the historic home. When they are introduced to the children's situation, they are eager to help. Dolly slowly sheds her fears and acts as a doting grandmother to the children. While Reginald takes a sheen to Eleanor, who is like him in many ways with her love of books and history. Readers will love Dolly's feisty attitude and Reginald's dedication to all things Vardin, including the children. With so many characters, readers are bound to feel a connection with one of them.
The plot begins with it being discovered that George and Eleanor have no guardian. The group of adults form an alliance and decide to help the children in any way they can. But the mansion will soon be up for sale and if everything isn't finished by that time, the children could end up in foster care. Vardin Village is a warming story with flashes of villainous tendencies and skewed views of right and wrong. Readers will enjoy this easy read with it's simplistic writing style and humorous bits. The only thing that troubled me about the novel was my uncertainty of the audience. At times it seemed as if the book were written with a young adult or tween audience in mind, but at other times it seemed to reach out to adults. This made it a little difficult to fully connect with the novel but I think a foundation is definitely built between the reader and each main character.
Rating: 3/5 Cups