A tormented, snarky girl quests through a magical house full of traps in this series opener.
Ever since Jane Doe appeared in Bluehaven on the Night of All Catastrophes 14 years ago, a babe in the arms of her nonresponsive father, the villagers have called her the Cursed One. Jane, they are sure, brought the earthquakes that plague them and somehow closed off the Manor that once offered gateways to the Otherworlds. On the annual holiday during which Jane and her father are burned in effigy by the townsfolk, Jane is rescued from a near murder only to be thrust through a secret Manor entrance on a quest to save all the worlds. The Manor’s filled with corpses, gas mask–bedecked soldiers, and B-movie traps. With the help of a few potential allies—or are they enemies?—Jane (who, along with every other character, has no obvious racial identity) hopes to find her newly vanished father. Lachlan’s worldbuilding is utterly incoherent, with a blend of technology levels, idioms, and foods that make no sense together, and he makes liberal, casual use of ethnic and disability tropes. Still, for those readers who want a video game–style race against time (if Jane doesn’t press the right glyph on the floor tiles, or duck the giant swinging axe, or escape baddies on top of a rushing train, she will die gruesomely), there’s plenty of bloody, fast-paced adventuring. A romance between Jane and a female friend seems likely to spark in Volume 2.
Poorly constructed but also a breathless, fun crawl through a maze of twisty passages. (Fantasy. 13-15)