Thursday, March 28, 2019

Reading on a Theme: Portals to Fictional Worlds

This post is for anyone who has ever wished they could visit a fictional world. But beware. It might not be all that you hoped.

The Woodlands:
During a World War II bombing raid, Evelyn, Philippa, and Jamie Hapwell crossed from their world into The Woodlands. They lived there for years, but when they returned they came back at the exact same moment they departed. Forced to relive their childhood again, Philippa flourishes, but Evelyn is an absolute mess. The Light Between Worlds explores what happens after the fantastical adventure is over. How can life resume when you are keeping a secret this big? Laura E. Weymouth's book was much more serious and sober than I was expecting. A book about sibling bonds and finding where you belong, The Light Between Worlds was out October 2018. Review copy from Edelweiss. 

The Hinterland:
Alice and her mother have lived a nomadic life and seem to have the worst luck, but when Alice's mother goes missing things start to get really strange. Her mother was stolen away by a character from the Hinterland, the setting of Alice's grandmother's famous collection of fairy tales. Alice, forbidden to read her grandmother's stories, has no idea what she's getting herself into, so she teams up with her classmate, Hinterland fanatic Ellery Finch. Melissa Albert's debut novel is so deliciously creepy. The line between fiction and reality is so thin. I love how The Hazel Wood weaves together the stories of the Hinterland with Alice's past and present. I'm eager to read the sequel. The Hazel Wood was out January 2018.

Summer Marks was brutally murdered five years ago, and everyone thinks her best friends, Mia and Brynn, driven by their obsession with the fantasy novel The Way Into Lovelorn, did it. It's true that the girls believed they had found a way to enter the fictional world. On the anniversary of their friend's death, Mia and Brynn finally start talking again about really happened. Broken Things was so eerie and awesome. The melding of fiction and reality is what really sold me on this book. I loved the excerpts from The Way Into Lovelorn and the fanfic the friends were writing. Lauren Oliver's book is so disturbing, but it also features a really fantastic group of characters. Out October 2018. 

Verdopolis and Gondal:
Living in relative isolation on the Yorkshire moors, the Bronte siblings, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne, keep themselves entertained by writing stories about fictional lands. However, their fictional worlds are not just stories. The Bronte siblings routinely crossover to direct and experience the stories from within.What makes Lena Coakley's book stand out is that this book is strongly influenced by history. The Brontes did write many stories in their youth, creating the elaborate worlds of Verdopolis, Gondal, and Angria, and they populated them with the characters featured in Worlds of Ink and Shadow. I enjoyed thinking about the books the sisters would eventually write  and how they might be tied to their youthful musings. The plot itself was at times super creepy and at others clever and amusing.

In Ink, Iron, and Glass we have a character journeying from a fictional world into the real world. When Elsa's mother disappears from the pages of their world, Elsa travels to the real world to find her. Gwendolyn Clare's historical fantasy is a steampunk world of mad scientists, alchemists, mechanics, and scriptologists. I really enjoyed the 19th-century Italian setting, the inventions, and the whole concept of scriptology. The jumps from world to world and the way that the text could create something real was so fun and interesting. Beware, this book does have a bit of the "chosen one" trope, as Elsa, as a polymath, is unique and special. The sequel, Mist, Metal, and Ash, was out February 19th, 2019.

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