BLUNDERLAND by Elizabeth O’Kane


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A rich fantasy world in the tradition of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.

The journey to Blunderland—an alternate world where black goo can render solid surfaces penetrable, and people read and write via handmade crafts (a cheap woven rug being analogous to a paperback book)—begins in an ordinary, unnamed American town. Finley Barrett has just moved in and is eager to build a life for herself after surviving both an incident of domestic violence and the death of her beloved mother. Exploring with her puppy Zipper (whose antics fill a perhaps unduly large portion of the book), Fin is drawn to a sculpture garden in a nearby park, particularly its giant mosaic arch that turns out to be a portal to Blunderland, a place that seems entirely alien until its residents help Fin remember that she has been there before. Blunderland is being terrorized by a brutal race nicknamed Creeps and some of the populace hope Fin is the answer to their troubles while others blame her for not helping before. Fin eventually discovers that she is the only one who can keep the Creeps where they belong, and so she sets off to find a magical throne that will help her fulfill her destiny. While Fin’s developing role as reluctant savior is compelling, the exact details surrounding her previous trip to Blunderland, and the fact that she gained entry to it from the exact same town she has just moved to yet doesn’t remember at all, strain believability. Many fantastic elements of the story are captivating and well imagined, such as the town of Soluna where the residents are bitterly divided by their allegiance to night or day. But the novel would be better served by developing concrete plot details rather than dwelling on Zipper’s favorite chew toy or how often he is fed. Blunderland is also overpopulated, causing characters to be introduced and then quickly left behind. But those that O’Kane does stick with are interesting and charming—particularly Ryan, the Native American (but is Blunderland in America?) who is both wise and wise-cracking.

Though plagued by gaps in internal logic, the novel is at least partially redeemed by engaging characters and sheer force of imagination.

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 2011
ISBN: 978-1450242196
Page count: 259pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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