Lorelei is an 11-year-old white girl whose parents and little brother disappeared mysteriously while the family was on a camping trip in the mountains to view a comet.
She is taken in by an aunt and uncle who don't believe that she actually saw a tentacled monster abduct her family. When Lorelei makes one last visit to her former family home, about to be sold, she stumbles into a portal that takes her into the world of Veloran, the titular Wishing World, where she bumps into a strange set of allies who seem to have knowledge of the monster that took her family. Initially, there are some humorous moments that kids will appreciate, and to imagine a comet as an inhabited magical world is an impressive premise. Unfortunately, Fahnestock jumps right into the otherworldly, leaving little room for buildup. The pacing is swift as Lorelei encounters an inundation of odd fantastical beasts, and readers may have trouble keeping up. It’s as if Fahnestock wanted to insert every single weird creature he could imagine into one story. For example, there are the dog-sized cockroaches, a knight-carrying pug, and the rainbow assortment of Spanglish-speaking Flimflams that, as Lorelei describes, sound "like a couple of the kids at my school who were from Mexico." The story relies on an abundance of whimsy, which crowds out the moral conflicts that could have given it needed weight.
Overstuffed. (Fantasy. 9-12)