A Corner of White, by Jaclyn Moriarty

ImageMadeleine used to be rich. She jetted around the world, hobnobbed with her super-cool friends, and wore the trendiest clothes. She also ran away from home seventeen and a half times. Eventually, her father abandoned them, and she and her mother landed in Cambridge, England, where her mother works as a seamstress while practicing game show questions so that she can win their fortune back. Madeleine and her friends are homeschooled by a different seemingly deranged adult each day of the week, and she puts up with Jack and Belle as part of her game of “slumming it” until her dad comes to rescue her. Madeleine is not really a very nice person.

Elliot lives in the town of Bonfire, in the Farms region of the Kingdom of Cello. Elliot is smart, good-looking, a great ballplayer, and well-liked by everyone. His life would be darn near perfect if his father hadn’t been killed by a Purple. At least, that’s the rumor. His Uncle Jon, his dad, and the physics teacher had left town in Jon’s pickup truck, and later Jon’s body had been found with wounds consistent with a Purple attack. Elliot can’t believe that his father is dead. He lives in hope that the Purple carried him off to its cavern to hold him in prison, which is typical Purple behavior. Just as he is about to leave town to journey to the Magical North to find a Locator Spell, the Butterfly Child arrives in a little glass jar, and he is stuck with her.

One day, Madeleine sees a tiny sliver of white shining from a crack in an old parking meter, and when she pulls it out, it’s a letter from a boy who says he lives in another world. She thinks he is a fantasy geek, but she writes back anyway, and so begins a correspondence between two young people who are both searching for their fathers. In Cello, however, contact with The World is a capital crime.

A friend of mine told me that she thought I would enjoy this unpredictable novel because she and I are both waiting for Jasper Fforde to pen a sequel to his amazing Shades of Grey. I had read Moriarty’s epistolary novel, The Year of Secret Assignments, a few years ago and enjoyed it very much. However, it was a work of contemporary, realistic fiction, and despite its cute and colorful cover, I had assumed that A Corner of White was similar. Rather, in this work, Moriarty has even made the characters in the Cambridge chapters eccentric, and many of the secondary characters in both worlds are fleshed-out and complex. Although the beginning is startling, some of the action does slow in the middle as we get to know everyone better. Toward the end, though, the many twisted plot threads rapidly begin to straighten themselves out beautifully, only to tangle themselves right back up in surprising ways! I found myself thinking, “Oh, no! It’s almost done!” as I counted the few pages left in the book, and then I remembered that there is a sequel coming out in March called The Cracks in the Kingdom. I must definitely put that one on hold.

For teens or adults who like Jasper Fforde, Douglas Adams, or other absurd speculative fiction.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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