– goodreads –
And we’re all a little frayed around the edges, aren’t we? It doesn’t surprise me and it doesn’t frighten me, finding out you’re only human like the rest of us.
This is one of my favourite finds this year.
Have you ever wondered what happens to children violently thrown from portal fantasy worlds? Do you think Susan from Narnia deserved better? Are you looking for something quiet and melancholy? Did you wish the Wayward Children novellas were darker and longer? Then you should absolutely read it.
Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell (and their brother Jamie) returned from the Woodlands to WWII England five years ago. Ever since then, things have been going badly. Evelyn never quite got over it, and spends her days depressed, grieving, desperately wishing to return. Philippa, meanwhile, went to study in America to escape, hiding behind a mask of perfection, not answering letters, secretly torn up with guilt over what happened. Until Evelyn disappears.
The book is split in two parts, the first half from Evelyn’s POV, the other from Philippa’s, both in first person, both interspersed with the occasional flashback. I really liked the structure. I was worried about the POV switch because ugh, change, but all worked out. And the prose is gorgeous.
The themes it deals with, especially when it comes to mental health, are quite heavy (see: content warnings). I’m not sure if I liked how some of the characters viewed Evelyn, their “eh, she’ll get over it” attitude, but I did like that in the case of both sisters there were so many characters who clearly cared about them, even if they didn’t know how to help.
I’ve seen The Light Between Worlds called a Narnia rip-off, but while I agree that it’s a clear homage, Narnia with serial numbers filed off, I don’t see how this is a drawback. The same elements are common to a lot of portal fantasy and post-portal fantasy – hell, comparing concepts, it’s more or less a less heavy-handed, less moralistic, darker, standalone version of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children. It’s the genre.
For me, it was perfect.
Recommended to: anyone looking for something quiet and melancholic and beautifully written
Not recommended to: those who dislike slow-paced, heavily introspective books, also see content warnings
Content warnings: deals heavily and extensively with grief, trauma, guilt, self-harm, and suicide