Children called Molders create an imaginary world in Alvarez’s debut fantasy about a middle school student caught up in baffling events.
First-time author Alvarez crafts a compelling narrative that centers on the escapades of 12-year-old Danny Kardon. Danny is like any average middle schooler. He enjoys playing video games with his best friend, Stanley, and doesn’t want to hang out with his baby sister, Joanna, and her imaginary friend, Felix. Then tragedy strikes. Someone murders his next-door neighbor and classmate, Darren Marbury, in his home in the middle of the night. Panic grips the children’s school and neighborhood and affects no one more than Danny, who sees Darren bicycle past him the morning after his murder. At first Danny believes that his mind is playing tricks on him, but then he sees Darren a few more times, and Darren asks for his help. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, Joanna disappears in the middle of the night. Determined to find his sister and return his family to its normal, boring state, Danny vows to find her. Fortunately, “Darren” returns to guide Danny on his trip to Losslahnd, a world that children called Molders create through their imaginations and to which their imaginary friends retire when the Molders no longer need them. Alvarez displays a mastery of plot pacing. The story carries the reader along at a brisk pace, but not so quickly that there isn’t enough time to become acquainted with the characters and to grow fond of them. By the time the novel reaches its climax, the reader invests fully in the fates of Danny, Darren and their imaginary allies.
An entertaining ride that may appeal to children who like The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland.