We were really very normal people, despite ...the curse and the way we were so solitary. I wondered if all monsters were so ordinary in their day-to-day lives. [p. 82]
Sidwell does have monsters, too: they keep showing up on the graffiti around town, with the message 'Don't take our home away'. And there are disturbing rumours of a flying creature glimpsed by night. And of course there's the Sidwell Witch, memorialised in a play that's performed annually by the children of Sidwell.
Twig, who is horribly lonely at the beginning of the novel, blossoms in her new friendship with Julia Hall: and it turns out that Julia and her sister Agate, and the mysterious Mr Rose, may hold the keys to several Sidwell mysteries.
This is a short, sweet novel about friendship, magic, unspoken secrets and the power of the past. It's also, if you look sideways at it, about parental pressure -- perhaps even mental health issues -- and how they can affect parent and child alike. Twig's upbringing has shrivelled her social confidence: she's as much a victim of the family curse as anyone.
Hoffman's writing is simple and evocative. I think this novel may be aimed at a young adult audience: I found it a delightful read, though it was over too quickly.