Two worlds collide with dire consequences in McNeill’s debut.
At the heart of this story are two questions: who are you, and where do you come from? As a baby (a very unusual, almost inhuman baby), Max suddenly and inexplicably appeared in this world. Around the same time, people around the globe started disappearing, leaving nothing behind but the clothes they stood in. Now a teenager, if Max can answer these two questions, he can help stop the Vanishings—and more importantly, find his parents. While the world’s top scientists haven’t been able to figure out why the Vanishings happen, Boris, a scientist with an interesting past, and Mrs. Jeffers, one of the Forest Folk, know the answers lie within the Beginning Woods—a world like this one, “minus science and plus magic”—and with Max’s mysterious origins. With their guidance, Max journeys to the Beginning Woods, facing its dangerous wilderness, each obstacle bringing him closer to finding himself. Beautifully written and filled with details designed to tickle the imagination, Max’s story leisurely unfolds. McNeill introduces a surreal world in which whimsical characters, including a book-loving wind giant and a horrid witch who likes to steal color, seem completely at home. The novel is geared toward a younger audience, but older readers will be better able to appreciate some of the more mature themes and content. Max is pale-skinned.
McNeill’s storytelling skills shine in this witty, delightful story about the power of imagination and dreaming. (Fantasy. 10-adult)