Thursday, September 14, 2017

The fearless travelers’ guide to wicked places by Pete Begler

Nell is used to being the odd one out; she sometimes has “episodes” where she sees animals instead of people and her only friend is in the hospital in a coma. When she sees a strange and horrible cloud drop a bloody shoe, she’s sure it would be better not to speak up, even though the village is getting more and more worried about the disappearances of mothers. But when her own mother, Rose, is transformed into a bird and stolen she will have to travel to dangerous and fantastical places she never imagined existed and find an inner strength she never knew she had to not only save her family but also to survive.

Accompanied by her younger brothers, George and Speedy, and the surly and mysterious Duke Badger, the small group ventures into The Dreamlands. There are dreamers who can create entire worlds in themselves, terrifying monsters, and undiscovered dangers. Even Badger and his cat Pinch are hiding some dramatic secrets. Will Nell find the courage and strength to not only save her mother but all of Dreamlands from the horrible witches of the Wicked Places?

At nearly 400 pages, this hefty fantasy is not for the faint of heart reader - especially once they encounter the terrible nightmares that haunt its pages. Yes, there are killer clowns. Literally. It’s an imaginative, fantastic trip into a strange world but I did think the trip was a little long. Some of the lengthy musings on inner strength and complicated descriptions of the weird dream world could have been edited down while some things like the origin and purpose of the Fearless Travelers isn’t really explained (or possibly I missed it - I kept getting interrupted while I was reading).

Verdict: Not for every reader, but kids who appreciate a complicated fantasy, like creepy/scary vibes, and don't require series will appreciate this. Fans of Books of Elsewhere and Diana Wynne Jones will enjoy this.

ISBN: 9781623707996; Published 2017 by Capstone; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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