J.K. Rowling meets Blue Balliett in this series opener in which imagination comes to life—literally.
When 12-year-old twins Matt and Em Calder “draw” themselves into a Georges Seurat painting in London’s National Gallery, their single mother knows it’s time for them to learn the truth about their magical heritage. Secretly fleeing to their grandfather’s estate on a remote Scottish island, the twins—who communicate with each other telepathically—discover that their mother is an Animare, who can change reality through drawing, and their father, who abandoned the family years ago, was a Guardian meant to protect their mother. Matt and Em, the products of this forbidden relationship, possess highly developed powers and worry the Council of Guardians. Adventure ensues when the twins’ mother disappears and they must use art to battle ruthless Council Guardians and Animare who want to open Hollow Earth, a mythical space in Earth where monsters and demons remain trapped. Helping them along the way is Zach, a deaf Guardian in training, although Matt and Em learn sign language with credulity-straining speed, and it’s unclear how a deaf teen would understand telepathic “speech.” It’s a frustratingly confusing narrative, though speculations about famous artists and interspersed chapters about a teen Animare from the Middle Ages do add interesting connections.
Hopefully the sequel will draw a more coherent storyline. (Fantasy. 8-12)