The world-hopping adventure begun in the previous volume (White Space, 2014) concludes in a new Now, a Victorian London crumbling right out from under the characters.
In an alternate timeline, a younger Emma’s experience in her guardian’s basement leads her into the Dark Passages, where she ends up in the same Now as the older Emma from White Space. In this claustrophobic Now, a terrible fog slowly consumes the land, leaving survivors dealing with illness, starvation and poverty. Versions of Emma’s friends from White Space are among those London inhabitants—some are disturbed by dreams connecting them to the events from the previous book. Emma is now in the body of a teenage version of Lizzie, who goes by Elizabeth and battles other character fragments in her mind; naturally, she is institutionalized in an insane asylum run by a villainous doctor. The cast must avoid the doctor’s schemes and unravel the relationships among people and Nows. The large cast—returning characters, alternate versions and new characters—results in flat personalities and a lack of character development. Additionally, the flexible reality and multiples make it hard to worry about the characters’ fates, detracting from the stakes and tension. Metatextual elements start off clever (such as literally faceless background characters) but devolve into self-referential cuteness. The lavishly described setting and Victorian lingo, however, are true stars.
An ambitious, atmospheric, not-entirely-successful attempt at a head trip. (Fantasy/horror. 14 & up)