A teen romance rooted in the bizarre turns deadly in this debut novel.
Ash can’t wait to move out of Treade. Besides her friends, nothing there interests her—except a locked-tight, abandoned building in the woods. After a tree falls on it during a storm, Ash finds a hole big enough to crawl through. Inside she discovers a library and a charming, mute boy named Li. The two of them spend hours every day creating their own worlds out of the books that surround them, and Ash starts to lose her connection to her worried friends and her sick mother. Li’s original charm turns dark as he tries to keep her with him forever. Beiko delivers a clever, interesting plot but loses authority at the sentence level. The language is flighty and ceaselessly romantic in a way that makes it difficult for readers to connect with the characters: “[We’d] pass the story on to Paul, the words and inspiration slipping out of me like twinkling coins into his lap. Our reunion would electrify our tender souls back to life. The three of us would bask in this new adventure, this new sanctuary....”
This ghost story will be attractive to readers well-versed in esoteric dreaming but frustrating to those who need a more tangible foundation. (Fantasy. 12-16)