After a 12-year-old British boy’s mum dies of leukemia, he finds himself teleported into the novel that his writer father has created to address his own grief.
Owen Smith desperately wants his dad back—to come to his football games, make dinner, be there for him when he needs him. But a year after his mother’s death, Owen’s father is having difficulty overcoming depression, until at Owen’s urging he seeks counseling and starts writing again. The father’s novel is a grim fantasy story about a world threatened by the zombielike Dreamless, former humans who have been exposed to the looming Darkness. The white lad is physically transported into the tale, missing school and sports events in the process. Occasionally arbitrary and repetitive, Revell’s metafictive story within a story is slow to take off but eventually effectively uses metaphors to explore depression, not unlike the soul-sucking Dementors of Harry Potter fame. Within the father’s saga, Owen’s mum reassures him that a person doesn’t have to be alive to be an important part of someone else’s story. Ultimately, Owen and his father relive their best memories of Owen’s mum and scatter her ashes over the ocean, as she had wanted.
An active and compassionate middle-grade primer on overcoming grief. (Fantasy. 10-14)