Another one of a kind from the inimitable Moriarty, this time, a barely epistolary fantasy series opener unlike anything else out there.
Fourteen-year-old Madeleine lives in Cambridge, England, with her zany mother in uncertain circumstances, having run away from their fabulously privileged international existence. Meanwhile, Elliot lives in Bonfire, The Farms, Cello, a parallel reality that might be the real fairyland (although that’s never explicitly stated, and this version seems utterly unlike most versions of fairyland). Through a crack between their worlds, they begin exchanging letters, although more of the novel is about one or the other of these two appealing characters than about their moments of intersection. Elliot wants to find his father, who disappeared mysteriously, while Madeleine wants to be found by hers and is also navigating friendship and her mother’s deteriorating health. Moriarty’s trademark wit and whimsy are on full display, with zingy dialogue that feels right if not entirely realistic and bizarre characters living unexpected lives that manage to be mundane and delightful at the same time. By the end, Madeleine’s story feels somewhat resolved, but Elliot’s has turned an unexpected corner that will bring their worlds much closer and bring readers more mystery and humor in the next volume.
Quirky, charming, funny, sad: another winner from this always-surprising author. (Fantasy. 12 & up)