A middle school girl travels to another dimension to save her parents’ homeland from destruction in this debut middle-grade sci-fi/fantasy novel.
On the last day of seventh grade, Veronica comes home to learn that her parents are actually exiled royalty from the land of Enos on the planet Dara, which exists in another dimension. The world that her parents used to rule faces a serious invasion threat, and Veronica finds out that she’s the only person who can communicate with the Prestar, a device which holds the Solito, a stone that allows Enos’ royalty to use their magical powers. An old friend from Enos named Dolches Carl escorts Veronica across the dimensions, and teenage horse thief Tiber and hapless but beautiful Princess Selmalina soon join them on their quest. When a traitorous king imprisons Dolches, the three young people must work together to save Enos. Although Veronica and Selmalina mostly stay focused on the existential threat, they also devote a lot of energy to a Mean Girls–style rivalry driven by Veronica’s crush on Tiber and her jealousy of Selmalina’s beauty. At the book’s conclusion, Veronica returns to her home and her parents, who are still banished from Enos—but the stage is clearly set for future installments. Fantasy fans may not find the book’s length to be a problem, but a more concise narrative might have kept the plot moving more steadily between perils. The writing is uneven, with clever chapter headings (“I Find Out My Parents Used to Be Interesting”; “I Almost Do Something Right”) but sometimes-clunky prose (“Selmalina, Dolches, and I settled into reasonably relaxed-looking positions”; “Tiber said something that I believed was a Sapangan curse because I heard my dad say the same word one day when he accidentally hit his thumb with a hammer”). However, the vibrant characters, both human and non, are consistently strong throughout.
A promising start to a new series.