An imaginative fantasy begins with real potential but suffers from a heroine who’s a bit too flawed.
This adventure/romance provides thrills and intrigue, starting off solidly with Mia attracted to Sol, the mysterious, hunky new student with a fabulous eagle tattoo that covers his entire back. Mia realizes that the strange lights she’s seen around her rural town are connected to the disappearances of boys from the area. When her brother also disappears, Mia runs to save him but loses the necklace her mother had left her. Surreptitiously investigating Sol, she discovers that he has it. Caught, she runs from him until both are swept up into the Other Side, a video-game fantasy-style world existing in the empty spaces of our own. Mia drops her necklace yet again, only to learn that it can open the barrier between the two worlds and that the evil Suzerain, if he gets it, will use it to destroy our side. The story works well until the supposedly intelligent Mia begins causing much, if not most, of the story’s suspense by immediately doing what she has been warned not to do—which ultimately ends up driving the narrative. Those who can overlook Mia’s irritating conduct will enjoy her dangerous adventures and standard-issue budding romance with the increasingly magical Sol as they try to retrieve the necklace, rescue Mia’s brother, fight demons and learn more about Mia’s past. More focus on the intriguing fantasy world and less on Mia’s failings would help.
Promising, but loses its grip. (Fantasy. 12 & up)