The Evil Garden by Edward Gorey / ISBN 9780764958854 / 32-page hardcover, 6.5 x 6 inches, from Pomegranate
Great-Uncle Franz, beside the lake, / Is being strangled by a snake. / The peaches, apples, plums, and pears / Are guarded by ferocious bears.
Alexa watches while her aunt Is pulled feet first inside a plant.
A happy, naive family enters the Evil Garden (free admission!) to spend a sunny afternoon in its inviting landscape, lush with exotic trees and flowers. They soon realize their mistake, as harrowing sounds and evidence of foul play emerge. When humongous hairy bugs, famished carnivorous plants, ferocious fruit-guarding bears, and a sinister strangling snake take charge, the family’s ominous feelings turn to full-on panic—but where’s the exit?
Edward Gorey leads us through this nefarious garden with a light step. His unmistakable drawings paired with engaging couplets produce giggles, not gasps. Perhaps The Evil Garden is a morality tale; perhaps it’s simply an enigmatic entertainment. Whatever the interpretation, it’s a prime example of the iconic storytelling genius that is Edward Gorey.
Artist and author Edward Gorey (American, 1925–2000) is beloved for the boundless imagination and sharp humor exhibited in his more than 100 published works. Gorey was also a set and costume designer for innumerable theater productions, including a staging of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which he won a Tony. He had a profound affection for literature, film, ballet, and animals. Cats and other odd creatures appear in many of his crosshatched illustrations. His humorously unsettling drawings of vaguely Victorian innocents facing unfortunate ends became familiar to a wide audience after appearing in the opening credits of the PBS television series Mystery! Gorey’s Cape Cod home, a veritable cabinet of curiosities, is now a museum celebrating his life and work.