Emma and her father are always on the move, travelling from place to place as her father’s work demands. Their new home, however, is different. There’s a frightening woman who lives down the hall: she bears an uncanny resemblance to a witch. A mysterious light comes from her apartment, and a small boy seems to be trapped inside.
School in this town is no happy place either, with an odd principal and a gang of girls who make tormenting Emma their special project. And strangest of all is the fact that there seem to be brownies - basement brownies, in the air vent in her bedroom.
Haunted by visions of her mother, Emma travels through the brownie burrow to the valley of Hades to visit with the goddess Ceres, following a series of clues that lead her across the sea of memory to the centre of the world.
There, on an inhospitable rock floating in a sea of steaming lava, Emma must find a way to release her mother from the sea of memory and restore magic to both the brownie burrow and the human world above.
I don't often read Middle Grade books, but I found Root Bound very much enjoyable. It begins the story with Emma moving to her new home and introducing the scary - and quite rude - lady down the hall. Once she's in her new apartment, she hears voices from creatures that she can't see, referring to Emma as a Human. Of course, like any other curious young child would, she goes to investigate and stumbles upon some brownies.
What I really admire about Root Bound the most is its narrative. The narration of the story seems so much like one of a child's, which the kind that I haven't had the chance to read many times. It maintains a childish innocence, and makes it seem kind of cute.
One thing that I felt could've been worked on a bit more was the world building. Of course, Tanya Karen Gough did take time to stop and describe and pick apart at times, but I felt that taking a bit more time to linger on that aspect would've added a lot to its appeal.
In the end, I didn't feel absolutely enchanted by Root Bound, but reading it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed walking alongside Emma on her journey to help the brownies and thought that her narrative was very well done. Though I wouldn't recommend it to adults or teenagers looking for a read with substance, this would be something I think would be extremely delightful for younger children.