In this debut YA novel, the extraordinary truth behind the death of her mother kindles a teenager’s determination to claim her place in a world-threatening conflict between light and dark.
Odd things are happening around 13-year-old New Yorker Emerson Page, a girl who has suffered from severe anxiety since the death of her mother five years ago. The official cause of death is still unknown. The teen’s therapy dog, Friday, is her anchor; so is Columbia student Skylar, who stays with her when Emerson’s forensic linguist father is away. A trip to her favorite bookstore is the catalyst for puzzling events that begin with the gift of an old tome; the disturbing appearance of a part-metal, part-flesh woman named Cassandra; a howling storm; and a riot on the street under a sky “painted the color of chaos.” Indeed, mysteries and portentous happenings so abound that readers could well feel at sea if not for Avampato’s taut unveiling of a fantastical hidden world, where descendants of the nine Muses in Greek mythology must find a way to prevent the destruction of all human creative thoughts and endeavors by one of their own. Can Emerson be the key? The author takes her relatable heroine on a journey toward self-determination, strength of purpose, and the discovery of her own gifts of light and imagination. During Emerson’s odyssey, paintings come to life; books in a vast “Library of Imagination” represent nothing less than the lives of every creative mind on Earth, past and present; and the heroine faces the nightmare that is Cassandra’s dark world of “In-Between.” The multilayered plot and vivid prose amply illustrate the tale’s key themes: the importance of human imagination, the arts, and invention as well as the value in finding and sharing one’s light. But Avampato may want to reconsider her statement, in her otherwise inspirational note about why she wrote her work, that there are “almost no” YA books “in which a female protagonist takes control of her own life and destiny.” Among the wealth of such novels: Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown, Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series, Catherine Linka’s A Girl Called Fearless, and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.
A suspenseful fantasy that delivers a richly layered, thought-provoking plot infused with messages about self-realization and the significance of imagination and creativity.