In the same vein as Lewis Carroll, debut novelist Pumphrey creates a fantastical world full of magic, mayhem and mystery.
In this first installment of a four-book series, 13-year-old Drake seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time—an explosion lights up the woods in front of him, leaving a strange, shimmering stone at the base of the damaged trees. Colorful, bright and hot to the touch, the stone captures Drake’s curiosity and causes him to see strange visions. Intrigued, he carefully brings the stone home and places it underneath one of his most beloved books, Luke of Kropite. Drake soon discovers that both the book and the stone are missing—the most likely culprit is his little sister, Bailey. In a flash, Drake spins in midair (not unlike Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole or Harry’s travel via the Floo Network) and lands in a giant field that smells like lavender and popcorn. An oversized bug named Sponke and a gentle giant named Groger help Drake adjust to his new surroundings. The three travel over mountains and into danger, but Drake still has no idea where he is or why he’s there. As he meets hide-a-binds, mezorks, rock benders, kreetons, foreadors and more, he discovers that he may be more familiar with this strange land than he realizes…and he may possess abilities that could make him just as powerful as his favorite fictional character, Luke. Pumphrey does well in her creation of Kropite, a unique and thrilling alternate universe, and she keeps the pace brisk. Less successful, however, is the novel’s introduction. One of the first characters we meet is Reigan, who is set up to be a major character but then disappears from view until the conclusion of the story. Conversely, Bailey is rarely mentioned until we discover that she’s missing. Lastly, Pumphrey dreams up a huge team of characters, many irrelevant to the plot. This may be a setup for successive books, but readers may feel inundated with too many players.
Despite minor shortcomings, this daring tale will find its audience among fans of fantasy and adventure.