Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – A Review

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire
Fantasy | Novella | Young Adult
Published by Tor.com
Released April 5, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Fantasy is full of stories of people going through doorways or portals into fantasy lands. We’ve all read and loved those tales. What is less common, however, is telling the story of those people once they’ve come back to reality.

Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series does just that. Set in a boarding school for “wayward children”, the novellas follow young adults after they’ve been thrust back into the real world from their unique fantasy worlds. The school serves to help them adjust to their realities and to the knowledge that most of the students will never go back “home” to the lands they grew to love.

Currently, there are six books published in the Wayward Children series, with four more currently planned. This first installment, Every Heart a Doorway, won a Hugo Award in 2017.

Every Heart a Doorway is told from the perspective of Nancy, who was sent back to our world after living in an Underworld with the Lord of the Dead. Upon her arrival at the school, a series of murders start to take place. While trying not to alert the outside world, the students and teachers have to keep one another safe with a murderer among them.

I enjoyed this novella. While it didn’t blow me away, I did like it enough that I’ve already requested the second book, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, from my library.

My favorite part of the book was watching the students adjust to our “normal” world after coming from a plethora of distinct and strange worlds. The worlds are so bizarre and intriguing – from a candy world to lands of skeletons, there’s a world for everyone. I do wish more time had been spent on Nancy’s Underworld, but seeing as this story is about the students adjusting to their normalcy, I understand why the focus was on their day-to-day lives.

At under 200 pages, it can be hard to fit a well-rounded story into a novella. Seanan McGuire did a great job, however. I never felt like the story was rushed or that parts were sacrificed for brevity. It felt much more like reading a full novel, just one that I was able to complete in less than a day.

Every Heart a Doorway has a diverse cast of LGBTQ+ characters. Mental illness and trauma are also represented, with many of the students suffering from PTSD. There wasn’t a ton of time spent with that, but considering how short the book was I think that McGuire did a good job of showing the difficulties of adjusting after something traumatic occurs.

While I was reading this story, I was reminded of Laura Weymouth’s The Light Between Worlds, which is another story about people trying to get back to their fantasy worlds. If you love one, definitely read the other. Both books are dark and magical and wonderful.

If you’re looking for a quick, quirky, magical, dark read, then I absolutely recommend Every Heart a Doorway. I finished it in just a couple of hours and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. If you end up enjoying it, you’ve got a whole series to keep you occupied! I’m looking forward to reading the next books!

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa – A Review

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Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
Fantasy | Young Adult | Japanese-Inspired
Published by Harlequin Teen
Released October 2nd, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

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I’m very, very behind on reviews. I decided to re-read Shadow of the Fox during FantasyAThon Round 2 back in December. One of the prompts for the readathon was to finish a fantasy that you started but didn’t finish. I had attempted to read this book initially after receiving it in an OwlCrate around the time that it was released. I didn’t get that far into it that first time and eventually DNF-ed it. It wasn’t that the book was bad, I think I just wasn’t in the mood for a fantasy novel at the time.

I am so glad that I picked Shadow of the Fox up again because the second time around, I loved it. I just got the sequel, Soul of the Sword, from the library. The third and final book, Night of the Dragon, is coming out at the end of March 2020.

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Julie Kagawa

Shadow of the Fox is the first book in a Japanese-inspired young adult fantasy trilogy. Our heroine is Yumeko, a teenager who is half human and half kitsune (the Japanese word for fox). She has fox magic and is being raised at the Silent Winds temple by a group of monks.

The Silent Winds temple holds a secret that Yumeko is unaware of, until one day they’re attacked by a horde of demons and the head Monk sends her away with a scroll that she has to save, or else the world will be plunged into darkness and evil.

As Yumeko flees, she meets a samurai named Kage Tatsumi, and they form a pact to travel together. Kage has secrets of his own, however, and Yumeko slowly learns that he’s more than she at first expected.

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A 19th-Century painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi depicting a kitsune

The plot as a whole is simple, as it’s a group of people going on a quest together to prevent the end of the world. Yes, it’s been done a thousand times, but I personally adore quest and adventure fantasies (there’s a reason that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are my favorite books).

The whole story was engaging and I fell in love with Yumeko’s character. Her growth as a character was extraordinary, beginning as a mischievous girl with fox magic to a warrior in her own right. She’s initially just thrust into an important position that she was in no way prepared for, and despite the fear she felt, she did what she had to in order to protect the scroll. I’m very excited to see how Yumeko continues to grow in the second and third books in the trilogy.

I also enjoyed Kage’s character, in a different way. He’s mysterious, and also has an interesting character arc. I’m hesitant to say too much about his arc because of the spoilers involved in the story, but his tale is just as fascinating as Yumeko’s.

The most intriguing part of the entire book for me was the elements of Japanese folklore that Julie Kagawa wove throughout the story. The demons, hungry ghosts, and other creatures fascinated me, mainly because I haven’t read many Japanese-inspired fantasy novels. I loved it so much that it certainly won’t be the last that I read.

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The slow-burn friendship and romance of Yumeko and Kage were very well-done. In a lot of young adult fantasies, there’s a tendency for the author to write insta-love type romances, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. Kagawa crafted their relationship so artfully that the reader really gets drawn into it.

Within the first fifty pages, one aspect of the novel that got on my nerves was that the chapters are told from multiple perspectives, but you’re not told who is narrating. You have to just figure it out. As the novel progressed, it became much easier to pick out who the narrator was right away, but for the first several chapters it was incredibly confusing.

Although Shadow of the Fox has some basic and common elements of young adult fantasy that might wear on people, overall I recommend the novel to people who want to explore a fantasy world not based on European aesthetics. I’m eagerly looking forward to finishing the trilogy this year.


Have you read Shadow of the Fox? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!




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The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco – A Review

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The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
The Bone Witch #1
Dark Fantasy | Witchcraft | Young Adult
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Released March 7th, 2017
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_and_a_half_stars

The young adult fantasy genre is oversaturated, but there’s always room for dark fantasy. The Bone Witch is just such a novel, following a young teenage girl named Tea after she accidentally raises her brother from the grave.

This series has been on my radar since it’s release in 2017, and I purchased a copy last year, but I just now got around to reading it. It’s an easy book to fly through and is engaging enough, but I finished it feeling far from satisfied.

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Rin Chupeco

Let’s not jump ahead. As I mentioned before, Tea raises her brother from the dead, which means she is a Bone Witch, aka a Dark Asha, a type of magic welder that is rare and feared by many people. Tea and her brother, who has become her “familiar,” leave their small village with the only other Dark Asha, Lady Mykaela.

Lady Mykaela takes Tea to a community full of other Ashas in order to receive magic training. She struggles through chores and strenuous challenges while fraternizing with the kingdom’s Prince Kance. By the end of the novel, Tea is faced with a difficult choice.

The book is told in dual timelines, one following Tea as she learns to become a Dark Asha, and the other told from a few years into the future when Tea has been banished and is alone on a dim beach.

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I felt like this book has so much potential, but among the reasons that I could only give it 2.5 stars is that it was definitely written with the intention of ending it on a cliffhanger so that you would have to read the next book to learn anything. There was so much left unresolved, something that has always annoyed me. I understand that many books are planned out to be a series, but I still prefer that each book in a series should also be a whole story by itself.

The magic system was fascinating, and I’m looking forward to learning more about it in book two. Magic is done by drawing runes based on the elements. I also really enjoyed the aesthetics of the world itself. Another interesting aspect is that people wear their hearts around their necks, displaying their health and emotions. I’ve never encountered that in a book before and it was refreshing to read something new.

My main issues with the book are that it felt incredibly rushed in many areas and the characters were either cliche or boring. There was this slight romance that appeared to be taking place between Tea and Prince Kance, but at the same time, they’re rarely in the story together. There’s no actual relationship between them, it’s just hinted at. Due to this, their “relationship” feels forced and I found myself annoyed at it much of the time. I also saw hints of what will probably become a love triangle in future books, a trope that heavily turns me off.

There were large swaths of time missing from the novel. For example, at one point Tea and some of the other Asha leave town to fight a monster that’s been terrorizing people, but there’s nothing about their journey. At the end of one chapter, they’re deciding to go fight this battle, and then at the beginning of the next, they’re there. I wish there had been more extended scenes so that the timeline of the novel would have flowed better.

I also would have appreciated more necromancy. There were only a few scenes in the book displaying Tea performing her Dark Asha skills, although I imagine there will be more of her magic in the rest of the series.

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One of the things that kept me reading this book was Rin Chupeco’s writing. This is the first book I’ve read of hers, and she definitely has a way with words. I enjoyed her descriptions and tone, and even if I end up not carrying on with this series after the second book, I would eagerly read other books written by her.

Despite the problems I encountered with the novel, I’ll still be reading book two. I’m interested enough in the story, magic system, and Tea to want to see where everything ends up next. I’d recommend only reading this book if you’re willing to commit to reading the series since this book can definitely not be read as a standalone. It’s an imperfect but enjoyable ride with a lot of potential.


Have you read The Bone Witch? What’s your favorite dark fantasy novel? Let me know in the comments!




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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – A Review

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Grishaverse Trilogy #1
Fantasy
Published by Square Fish/Macmillan
Released June 5, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I read the Six of Crows duology and adored everything about it last year (read my reviews here). At the time, I didn’t know that the GrishaVerse trilogy existed, but looking back, I wish I had read the two series in the correct order. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed Shadow and Bone, and am looking forward to reading the next two books in this trilogy.

Shadow and Bone follows Alina Starkov, an orphan that grew up to be a soldier and mapmaker. Her childhood best friend, Mal, has followed the same path.

The story begins as the army is nearing a terrifying place known as The Fold, or the Unsea. It’s essentially a part of the land that has been erased, overcome by an inky blackness and which is inhabited by the volcra, terrifying flying monsters.

The army is joined by many high-ranking Grisha (people who have magic abilities) as well as the Darkling, second in power only to the king.

The apprehension of the army is warranted, as they are attacked quickly after venturing into the fold. Everything seems lost, until, suddenly, a burst of pure white light saves them.

Alina is captured by the ranking military officials and brought before the Darkling afterward, but she has no idea why, or how she is connected to that brilliant flash of light. From there, the journey follows Alina’s journey as she discovers a magic hidden deep within her.

As I said at the beginning of this article, I really loved this book. It’s in no way perfect, but I flew through it because I had to know what happened next.

There are some really enjoyable characters in this book. Alina and the Darkling are both fascinating, particular the Darkling, who is mysterious and whose motives are we are unsure of. My favorite character in the story, however, is Genya, who is such a fun, colorful character, and I hope we see more of her in the books to come.

At the same time, one of the other main characters in the novel, Alina’s childhood friend Mal, seemed very under-developed in comparison. He just didn’t seem to have much personality, although he did get better towards the very end of the novel.

The reason I couldn’t give this book five stars is that there were a couple of issues that I believe could have been handled better by Bardugo.

First, Alina changes her mind and her loyalties far too quickly, and with nearly no evidence to make the things she does a good decision. I can’t expound on this point too much without giving away spoilers, but there’s a very distinct point in the story where her loyalties change, and it’s too sudden and rash.

Second, the romantic relationship between Alina and the Darkling felt so forced that it caused me to roll my eyes a few times. I guess I understand their relationship, particularly as Alina may be drawn to the power he represents, but I still did not enjoy those parts of the book.

Otherwise, this is a great first book in a trilogy, and I am very much looking forward to reading Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising.


Have you read Shadow and Bone? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!




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Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy – A Review

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Once & Future (Once & Future #1) by Amy Rose CapettaCori McCarthy
Fantasy | Retelling | Science Fiction | Young Adult
Published by Little, Brown and Company
Released March 26, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Those of us in the book community who follow countless book-centric blogs, YouTube channels, Instagram accounts, etc., need to be careful when it comes to hype and consensus. I imagine that every single one of us can name at least a handful of over-hyped books that fell flat for us. Likewise, sometimes we hear about various people not liking a particular story, which occasionally leads us to not read it.

This almost happened to me with Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy’s gender-bent, queer retelling of the King Arthur legend, Once & Future. I first heard about this book when some of the most popular Booktubers started hauling their ARCs of it, and I was immediately intrigued.

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Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

For one thing, I’m slightly obsessed with Arthurian legend and magic swords. Second, I think that modern retellings of classic stories are a lot of fun. Third, I love gender-bent stories. I added Once & Future to my TBR and waited (not-so) patiently for its release date.

Once the book was released, however, I started seeing negative reviews of the novel. I was disappointed, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from trying to enjoy it. In the weeks I waited for it while on hold at my library, I kept hearing that it was “just alright,” nothing special. At one point, I even considered canceling my hold on it.

I am so thrilled that I stayed on that hold list and eventually got the opportunity to read it.

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I loved Once & Future. It’s a fun remix of a classic legend, with loveable characters and exciting quests.

In Once & Future, we meet Ari, who is the forty-second reincarnation of King Arthur. She’s from a planet called Ketch which has essentially been quarantined from the rest of the universe by the Mercer Corporation – a tyrannical, monopolistic company that runs literally everything. Ari was adopted by her parents at a young age and has an adopted brother named Kay, who is now the only family she has, as the Mercer Corporation has imprisoned their parents.

During a resupply mission on a space station near Earth, things go horribly wrong and Kay and Ari end up on the run from the Mercer Corporation. In a last chance effort to outrun them in their seriously under-powered spaceship, Ari takes the ship down onto the surface of Earth.

On Earth, Ari stumbles upon a sword stuck in a large tree and pulls it out. You guessed it – the sword is none other than the famed Excalibur. The sword’s removal awakens Merlin, the magical wizard we all know of – except in this world, he’s aging backward due to a curse, and is currently an awkward teenager.

Ari, Merlin, and several other characters based on the classic legend, such as Gwen, Lam, and Val, work together to try to discover the truth about what happened on Ketch while also trying to take down the Mercer corporation.

This is such a fun novel. I love that Gwen is the Queen of a planet obsessed with medieval times, complete with robotic horses and jousting. I also appreciated the humor in the novel. I’ve always been a huge fan of comedic sci-fi or fantasy, and that’s exactly what this is. At the same time, however, the novel deals with very serious topics, such as genocide, pollution, and betrayal. I feel as though the authors did a great job of balancing both the serious and the comical aspects.

The book is wonderfully diverse, with a wide range of characters and sexuality. I love stories with plenty of representation, and this one doesn’t disappoint. In this world, no one cares what your sexual preferences are or what pronoun you choose to use – it’s all completely normal to these characters. However, one of the few gripes I have with the story is that all of this diversity is used as the defining characteristics of these characters. In a world where diversity is really fully embraced, wouldn’t those characteristics be in the background? I wish some of the characters had been given more personality than just to say that they’re ace or pan.

There were definitely bits of the book that I cringed at, such as Merlin singing a Katy Perry song, but those moments were few. I feel like people are way too harsh on this novel. I really it and I’m looking forward to its sequel, to be released in 2020.


Have you read Once & Future? What did you think?




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A Shifting of Stars (Of Stars, #1) by Kathy Kimbray – A Review

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A Shifting of Stars (Of Stars, #1) by Kathy Kimbray
Fantasy | Young Adult
Self-Published
Released May 28, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I was fortunate enough to be sent a free e-ARC of A Shifting of Stars from the author, along with the opportunity to participate in her cover reveal.

A Shifting of Stars is the first book in a young adult fantasy trilogy. Our heroine in the story is Meadow Sircha, who watched her mother die from a wilting sickness as their emperor squandered the money of their kingdom instead of bringing life-saving medicine into their communities.

One night, Meadow takes a chance and shows up at the Gathering of Wordsmiths, an underground poetry/story community, and gets in front of the crowd to take a stand against the emperor and his famed gladiator fights. When she is finished, another member of the audience is inspired, and follows her onto the stage, sharing his own tale of misfortune at the hands of the empire.

Their cries for revolution are overheard by the emperor’s son, Prince Malthe, who happens to be traveling past. Meadow is arrested alongside the owner of the establishment where she spoke out, and they are taken to the city to be imprisoned.

From there, Meadow is rescued by members of the Emperor’s palace staff. Before she can get out of the castle, however, she discovers that Prince Malthe has a very dark secret. She also finds out, much to her horror, that her father has been arrested at Prince Malthe’s request.

As Meadow escapes the palace’s walls, she is aided by two boys that she recognizes from the Gathering of Wordsmiths – Vogel and Casper. They promise to help Meadow free her father, along with Meadow’s best friend, Anai. The journey is a long one, and they have to pass through the Sparselands, a forest that is generally avoided due to unknown dark magic.

I was hooked from the first chapter, as I love books that begin in desolate or dark settings. We first meet Meadow as she makes her way to the establishment where she wants to share her story, walking along streets where…

“…buildings cringe with moss. Walkways glisten with dirty puddles. Teetering balconies slouch from walls with garments strung between casements like cobwebs.”

Another aspect that is revealed about Meadow early on is that she has lost her mother, something that made me feel empathy towards her character. As I’ve written about before, my own Mother died nine years ago, and when I read about a character expressing the same feelings I’ve been dealing with all these years, it always serves to attach me to them.

“…I need to release my sorrow. To reclaim my spirit. To make things better. Since losing Mother, I’ve barely slept, never mind being able to rise with the sun. I’ve missed so many days at the market that my father has often picked up my slack, working longer than he should to bring in more coin.”

That last quote – I know that pain well. After my mother died, I missed days and days of work, I struggled to get out of bed, and it was like the whole world lost meaning to me for weeks.

I enjoyed the characters in the story, although Meadow’s love interest was predictable. While I could have done without that budding romance, the rest of the story was great.

I won’t be giving any spoilers away in this review, but I was absolutely not expecting the ending! I was shocked by it, but it was a twist that I haven’t encountered often, so it was refreshing. I can’t wait to read the next book in the trilogy!




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Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer – A Review

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Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Young Adult | Fantasy | Fairy Tales
Published by Page Street Publishing
Released January 15, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_stars

_If you love something you will not give it up, not for anything. It belongs to you, it is part of you. If you grab hold of it and never let it go - no one can take it from you._

The only two things I knew about this book when I added it to my Goodreads TBR list were that it has an absolutely amazing cover and that it’s a fairy tale retelling. I can’t stress enough how much I love this cover. It’s one of my favorites from the new releases of this year.

Echo North is a fairy tale retelling based on the Norwegian East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with other influences including Scotland’s Tam Lin and 19th Century Siberian Russia. It’s very easy to see all of these elements in Joanna Ruth Meyer’s novel, and I love that, at the end of the book, she included an author’s note that discusses her influences.

The novel follows Echo, a young girl whose face was badly scarred by a white wolf as a child. As a result of her scars, the villagers treat her badly and believe she has the devil in her. One day her father goes to the city to sell some of his manuscripts to fix the family’s financial woes, and he doesn’t come back. Echo stumbles upon his barely-alive form in the snow in the woods, where she also encounters the same white wolf that scarred her all those years ago.

The wolf makes a deal with her:  He’ll save her father if she agrees to go with the wolf and live with him for one year. Terrified of losing her father, Echo agrees and is whisked away to a magical, living house.

The wolf teaches her how to care for the living house and tells her that he is dying. Over time, the Wolf and Echo become friends. Echo also discovers a library full of book mirrors – mirrors you can step in to in order to experience an entire story. She meets two new friends in these stories; Hal, a handsome young man that immediately intrigues Echo, and Mokosh, a princess with her own library full of book mirrors.

Working alongside the wolf, Echo tries desperately to save the house which is become unsafe and unbound, while also trying to save Hal, who is trapped in the book mirrors.

I wanted to like this book so badly, and I did get some enjoyment out of reading it, but the entire plot is based around an incredibly problematic romantic relationship, and I couldn’t overlook the implications of that relationship.

**This Section Contains Spoilers**

Essentially, the wolf tricks Echo into staying with him. As soon as Echo made her promise to the wolf, a villager from her village drives his cart along the path where her father is, and it’s the villager who takes her father to safety. The wolf even admits to Echo further into the story that this would have happened anyway.

The wolf is dishonest with her as soon as she’s in his house, even attacking her when she steps into the wrong room. She forgives him for all of this, but there’s a much more serious betrayal. Again, this part contains spoilers, so if you haven’t read the book you might want to skip this section.

 

When Echo discovers that the Wolf is Hal, and that he’s tricked her into taking his place as a possession of the evil Queen of the Wood, she still forgives him. Call it Stockholm syndrome or Echo’s own passivity, but I can’t support a story with such a problematic “love” in it. Echo not only endures a great deal of pain and suffering to free her captor and betrayer, but she does it twice! If I were in her shoes (and I believe this would be true for any self-respecting person), once I learned the truth of Hal’s deception and lies, I would leave him to his fate. After all, he didn’t respect Echo and took her away from her family and her life. Why on earth would he deserve any respect?

**End of Spoilers**

This novel also contains every fairy tale trope you can think of:  An evil stepmother, an evil queen, talking animals, magic mirrors, the main character’s dead mother, and the list goes on and on.

I did really like the idea of the book mirrors, and that’s a fantasy element I can get behind. Just imagining something so wonderful and magical makes me happy. Unfortunately, one interesting element couldn’t save the entire book for me.

Due to the problematic love interest, I can’t give this book any more than two stars. While there were some elements that I didn’t hate in the first half of the book, once the truth of the Wolf came to light, all respect I had for this book disappeared.


Have you read Echo North? What were your thoughts?

The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth – A Review

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
Young Adult | Fantasy | Portal Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon
Published by Harper Teen
Released October 23, 2018
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I remember the first time I heard of The Light Between Worlds – it was in a booktube video about new releases. As soon as I heard the premise I added it to my TBR because it sounded so unique. I couldn’t believe that no one had done it before.

The plot focuses on three siblings: Evelyn, Philippa, and Jamie Hapwell. They find themselves seeking safety in an air raid shelter during World War II, and something completely unexpected happens – they open their eyes to find they’re standing in a forest with a stag walking towards them. They’d been called to the Woodlands by Cervus, the guardian of the Woodlands. The siblings spend several years in this fantasy world, aiding the Woodlanders in their own war.

This book isn’t about their story in that fantasy world, though. It’s about how they deal with coming back to the real world. As I already stated, I can’t believe no one has done this before (that I’m aware of), because it’s an amazing plot. We’re always so focused on the magical lands that our characters find themselves in that we never take a moment to consider what their lives are like once they come back to their normal, everyday lives.

The first half of the novel is told from the point of view of the younger sister, Evelyn, and the latter half is in the words of Philippa. Evelyn has struggled with the transition back to her real life and only wants to go back to the Woodlands.

This book had very strong Narnia vibes, which is part of the reason I loved it. I grew up reading portal fantasy such as the Narnia book, and Laura E. Weymouth did an incredible job of turning such an over-used type of story and forming something unique and new with it. This is the author’s debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with in the future.

I really enjoyed the dual timelines. For the most part, each chapter alternates between Evelyn trying to keep her head above water in her real life and what it was like being in the Woodlands. Even though the Woodlands are fighting a war against a ruler who is trying to take over the forest to use for fuel for another war that he’s fighting, Evelyn still finds so much beauty in that world and feels at home there.

“Why are there always people who want to own everything good and bright in the world, and destroy those things if they can’t be bought? Isn’t it enough to just know such things are there?”

There was one aspect of the book that I didn’t enjoy, and that was the romances of both Evelyn and Philippa. Both romances felt very insta-lovey and there was absolutely no build up to these relationships. In each case, the girls find a nice, well-mannered boy who is willing to take care of her and suddenly they’re dating. I don’t think these romances were needed at all, and they just made the novel feel fluffier than need be.

One unexpected aspect of this book is that it made me feel incredibly homesick. I found myself dreaming of the city where I spent my 20s and missing it so much. It’s not to be unexpected, as the novel deals with finding where you feel most at home, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen. It actually made me enjoy the book even more since I always love it when a book makes me feel so much emotion.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and can see myself re-reading it in the future. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun to read and reminded me of what it means to feel at home.