In this fantasy debut, a restless rabbit longs for adventure, and fate is happy to oblige.
The life of Lepus Hollow resident Bartholomew Rabbit changes with a dream. In it, a green-cloaked stranger says, “You must find it. It is yours and you must find it.” Bartholomew searches his home for a missing object to no avail. His servant, Parfello, suggests visiting the Cavern of Silence, which answers the questions of those who wait patiently. In the cavern, Bartholomew learns that he’s missing his own Great Gem, and he must next speak with the Tree of Eyes for guidance. A reference book leads Bartholomew to the Swamp of Lost Things, where he encounters the tree and the Skeezle Brothers, who deal in lost treasure. The Skeezles, however, decide to imprison Bartholomew inside a storage room alongside another captive named Oliver T. Rabbit. A crafty inventor, Oliver helps Bartholomew escape using a volatile element known as duplonium. After parting ways with Oliver, Bartholomew discovers The Most Beautiful Island, a surreal place that helps close the circle of his quest. Or does it? Once back home, Bartholomew begins thinking of Clara, the childhood love whom he hasn’t seen or heard from in years. The real adventure starts when Bartholomew realizes that “all the events in my life are tied together by invisible strings.” Hoffman kicks off a thematically ambitious trilogy using several fantasy tropes, like a talking tree and a mysterious, robed benefactor. These ideas act as comfortable furniture, as the author soon blends in more fabulous concepts, including colored thought clouds (that can be touched and examined) and the Shapers Guild (a group of powerful individuals who can turn thought into reality and back again). Some of these ideas may be hard for younger readers to fully appreciate, but Hoffman’s clear, graceful prose continuously opens the narrative to grander elements—like robotic rabbits and a secret ring from beyond the depths of time—that never fail to enthrall.
An epic that hits all the perfect notes of science, magic, and sweetness.