When five siblings find a strange window in their home, they fall through into another world. This new world is filled with terrifyingly deformed humans, aggressive dictators, and mysterious prophecies. Each one of them brings a new perspective to the story and new complications. As the children learn more about this new place and the abilities they have within it, they find themselves deeper within and further away from their home.
I picked up this book because the cover was beautiful and original. I haven't seen any others like this so far this season! Additionally, the summary reminded me of many of the books I read and loved when I was younger. I don't typically read or review middle-grade books, but with the nostalgia and intriguing cover design, I agreed to take a look.
The world of Loam, where the majority of the story takes place, is familiar to our own. It was comforting during some of the more stressful aspects of the story, to analyze the world I was in and see that it was familiar even if everything else seemed chaotic. It also helped me follow the plot easier that I would have if I was trying to understand what was going on and where I was at the same time. The author does a great job of describing of describing the strange and creepy citizens of this world and show the reader some other abnormalities, such as the children's new powers.
There are five children and main characters in the book. The book alternates perspectives, moving from the oldest kid to the youngest. Each perspective brings a unique voice to the book, without being stereotypical and flat, which I worry about with middle-grade books in particular. While I was more interested and connected to some characters than others, I was relieved that the author truly invested in her characters and understood each voice. The more rare and odd perspective that shows up throughout the story is that of the exile. His voice adds some additional mystery but also confusing to the story. I was pulled forward by wanting to see where his story connected with the main story, but I also probably invested too much time in trying to figure everything out beforehand.
My main complaint about this book is with the pacing. It's a long and somewhat slow moving book, which usually allows for a pretty leisurely read. However, combined with the high intensity of the conflicts the children find themselves in, it was more exhausting than anything. It seems everywhere they turn, they find enemies and terror and even the friends they find don't feel entirely trustworthy. It was nice to have a few quiet and sweet moments the children have comforting each other, but they were so few and far between that they didn't help as much as I'm sure the author intended. Each time I set the book down, I was less desperate to pick it back up and more worn out and ready to do something new.
Lovers of A Wrinkle In Time and Chronicles of Narnia will enjoy this middle-grade portal fantasy novel! There are several fun and diverse characters to get to know and the mysteries of the world of Loam will keep you reading. The plot is slow moving and long. There are many dark and somewhat disturbing moments I was surprised to find in this genre, but for the motivated reader, it won't be a problem.