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I read this book sometime back in 2012-2014.

The plot started when a family of three moved into an old mansion. They were a loving family despite lacking financial success. Soon though, the girl notices her parents suddenly becoming successful, but also detached and emotionless.

One night, she follows them only to discover that they've been going to an old tree every night and disappearing into a large hole at the base of the tree. (They either left the tree holding balloons or went to the tree holding balloons.)

When she follows them in, she witnesses her parents souls being put into balloons and the light leaving their eyes just a little more. The demon (?) in charge of this tried to convince her to join her parents but she runs away. I'm pretty sure she met a boy next door who joined her and he was convinced and ended up selling his soul too.

All I can remember clearly is that their souls were trapped in balloons and the protagonist was a girl with a sort of cowardly male friend who helps. I also think she had two pets, being a cat and a dog.

I'm sorry, that's all I can remember. I've spent days searching for this book.

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  • The cover of the book was an illustration of a girl standing in front of a mostly dead tree holding a red balloon, the tree was large and curved in a way that you could walk down into it, almost like a stairwell. -- forgive me, that wasn't the cover, but a scene I ended up assuming was the cover.
    – papertiger
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 21:31

1 Answer 1

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Is this Juniper Berry (2011) by M.P. Kozlowsky...?

From a Goodreads user review:

Juniper lives in a mansion of misery, with her two super-famous parents who barely pay any attention to her any longer.

Late one night, her parents do something really creepy -- they walk to a hollowed out husk of a tree, led by a black crow, and disappear inside.

She's determined, with help from equally isolated and miserable next-door-palace neighbor Giles, to get to the bottom of what's stealing all the joy from their parents' lives.

The crow leads them to the tree, following their parents' trails, and they watch the evil creature Skeksyl give their parents the fame and fortune they crave -- for the seemingly innocuous price of a breath into a red balloon.

But Skeksyl is hiding the true nature of his balloons and bargains. The red balloons hold the breaths of souls, the ones he's stealing, and Giles' and Juniper's parents don't have much more left to give.

Which is fine by Skeksyl. He's eagerly waiting to feast on a much more delectable meal, the soul of a child. He has a proposition to make, one Giles can't refuse, and only Juniper, with help from an unexpected ally, can save.

Front cover of "Juniper Berry" by M.P. Kozlowsky.

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    You're amazing!! That's the exact book! Thank you for the help.
    – papertiger
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 21:35
  • Interesting, reminds me of Rachel Vincent's 2009 "My Soul to Save" where people are selling their souls to demons for fame and fortune, using balloons to transport the "demon breath".
    – Showsni
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 22:59

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