From the book:

"I'd had a small hope that Rowan would be at the tree house, but she wasn't. Her big brick house almost appeared to be rearing up on a sharp rise of ground on the other side of the fence, and I could see the windows with their closed blinds. I couldn't tell if anyone was home. Goosebumps rose on my arms. I didn't know why, but I didn't like the look of that house. The bare bricks were too dark and the house was too square and bulky. It looked like a prison.


From the day the Shepherds move into their new home, Emily is drawn to the tree house in the backyard. It's a beautiful, old-fashioned place, much more than a child's playhouse, perfect for drawing, reading, and spending time with good friends.

That's how she meets her next-door neighbor, Rowan, who has been using it as a refuge where she carves wooden animals - the "Queen's Beasts" - and keeps her distance from her difficult father.

Shy, imaginative Rowan is like no friend Emily has ever had, and the two of them get along - and begin to change each other's lives - because of what they don't tell each other, as well as what they do. For Emily has her own secrets, too. And some friendships have unspoken rules - rules that you have to follow even if your friend may not be safe ....


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