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CROSSING OVER by Anna Kendall

CROSSING OVER

By Anna Kendall

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-01246-6
Publisher: Viking

An imaginative dark fantasy is marred by opaque worldbuilding and clunky characterization. For 14 years, people have been taking advantage of Roger’s talent to “cross over” to the Land of the Dead, so it’s a relief to escape from his brutal uncle into hard labor at the royal laundry. Once there, however, he becomes a pawn between rival queens, while his obsession with a lovely court lady drags him into even more harrowing territory. The premise is fascinating, and the depiction of the afterlife and its oblivious denizens both creepy and eerily serene. Unfortunately, it is poorly integrated with either of the clashing plots of political intrigue and mysterious horror. While some of the characters are compelling, none is particularly likable; just as Roger frequently confesses that he is at a loss to understand their motivations, readers are left equally frustrated. Roger himself is passive, incurious, self-centered and craven, which may be realistic considering past abuse and present dangers, but it makes for an unpleasant narrator. The interesting implications of a matriarchal society are never explored, and the many unresolved questions create more irritation than anticipation for a sequel. Disappointing. (Fantasy. YA)