The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman

The Freedom Maze
Sohpie and Ghost: The Lady in Yellow

Mom is such a mean old meanie – just because daddy divorced her, she wants to go to back school, get her education, and get a decent job as an accountant. This means Sophie has to stay with Auntie Edna at the boring old ancestral home, where Elderly Grandma wants her to behave like a lady should when Grandma was a little girl.

Sophie is most seriously not happy. She does hear some of the old stories from when the family was rich, but mostly she wants to read her time-travel stories, play outside by the creek, and not wear her stockings or brush her hair. She also does some repairs to the overgrown maze. See that yellow gown in the cover picture? That’s the Lady in Yellow ghost. Auntie admits that there are many ghosts, but she doesn’t want to deal with them.

Major shoutout to
Five Children and It
and The Time Garden

Then she meets a Creature, and wishes for adventure… time travel through the maze to meet new friends! Well, that doesn’t work as expected. Time travel sure does change a person, slowly by slowly. When Sophie is a house slave, her experiences are bad but not as bad as they could be, as this is a middle-grade book. Another slave girl has it worse, which lets the young reader realize things are bad without it all happening to the main character. Lots of good things happen, go read it!

It’s also very exciting meeting Papa Legba and the Queen of Heaven, who both scold the Creature for sending a child out of her time. Also, the wise-woman from Africa makes it really clear that she doesn’t ask the loa to help her hurt people, because that is evil. Also nice is that when Sophie wakes up from her fever dream, she thinks the Queen of Heaven is right in front of her, with a blue dress and gold hair-kerchief. Ooops, nope, just a human.

Coming home is also done well, with Sophie’s hair grown three inches in an afternoon. Auntie doesn’t want to know about her adventure with the ghosts, it’s bad enough to know the maze is haunted. Does Sophie learn anything from her experience that will help her with her parents? Yes. Is it easy? No.

Great story.
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