I’ve been waiting for another series to fall in love with. You know, the kind of love that makes you feel like you’ve been handed a plate of warm, chewy, gooey freshly baked cookies from your grandma, just as you’ve put on an old pair of comfy socks, and snuggled up with a fluffy cat to read?! Yeah, that kind of love. It is authors like Jacqueline West who awaken the 12-year-old in me who loves nothing more than to be swept away on a dangerous adventure, “elsewhere.”
Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. Now her crumbling Victorian mansion lies vacant. When eleven-year-old Olive and her dippy mathematician parents move in, she knows there’s something odd about the place—not least the walls covered in strange antique paintings. But when Olive finds a pair of old spectacles in a dusty drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet: She can travel inside these paintings to a world that’s strangely quiet . . . and eerily like her own Yet Elsewhere harbors dark secrets—and Morton, an undersized boy with an outsize temper.
As she and Morton form an uneasy alliance, Olive finds herself ensnared in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. It’s up to Olive to save the house from the dark shadows, before the lights go out for good.
I didn’t have any expectations going into The Books of Elsewhere. To be honest, it’s been awhile since I’ve REALLY enjoyed a new series of middle-grade. It’s rare to find a book with clever writing that is both tense and strange, and built around a plot that is subtle enough to keep me guessing. There are plenty of “cute” stories out there, but I’ve been craving something more lush and daring. And that is exactly how I would describe this book.
Olive is an awkward and curious girl. Plain and engaging and full of contradictions. She is the kind of protagonist that becomes easy to morph into – real enough to step right off the page.
Jacqueline West’s writing is well paced. Suspense builds with each chapter, and the timing feels natural and unrushed (which I know, as a writer, is hard to pull-off). The tension is palpable, the descriptions of the house are poetic and sinister, and like the luminous paintings on the wall, the words Jacqueline weaves together create a world that is full of icy breath, dark shadows, and vivid colors. It’s the murky magic of Roald Dahl mixed with the plucky charm of Ramona the Pest.
All I can say is, I LOVED it, I immediately started reading Spellbound (the sequel), and I can’t wait until The Second Spy is released this summer!