From School Library Journal
Grade 5-7–May has grown up in an isolated home next to Briery Swamp. Her only real friend is her pet cat, Somber Kitty. When she digs through the rubble of a ruined post office, she finds a letter with her name on it. It tells her to travel through the woods to a lake. When she gets there, she accidentally falls into the water, which changes her life. After she returns home, she discovers that she can now see ghosts, and that they are all around her. May returns to the eerie spot in the middle of the night and is dragged down into the lake, which is actually a portal to the Ever After, where all dead people go as well as ghosts, specters, and other spirits. This alternative world is filled with vivid characters, including Pumpkin, the shy ghost who has watched over May since she was a child. The protagonist is sent on a quest to find a book that will tell her what her future is and whether she can get back home. The setting of the book is confusing. Even the early part set in the normal world is not cohesive, but it becomes even less convincing in the Ever After. Character motivation is also an issue, because May chooses to return to the lake and then fights through the entire book to escape what she has found. This is a secondary purchase compared to other vivid fantasy works like those created by Cornelia Funke.–Tasha Saecker, Caestecker Public Library, Green Lake, WI
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Gr. 4-7. Everything about 10-year-old May is odd: she lives at the edge of a deserted town; she's a shy misfit who hasn't a clue about making friends; and her cat is an outlandish-looking hairless rex. But not even May's worried mother knows ghosts are haunting May. After a mysterious letter lures her to a frightening world of the dead, May must find the courage to outwit the bizarre creatures hunting her and discover why she has been summoned to Ever After. This could easily have been just another formulaic story of a loner on a quest who learns how to love and lives happily ever after, but it's not. Anderson sets the unsettling, nightmarish tone of her offbeat fantasy in the first paragraph, then compounds the horror chapter after scary chapter (think Garth Nix's Sabriel
, with a leavening of humor). The first of a trilogy, this book leaves loads of tantalizing, unanswered questions. Kids will love it all the same, but warn them not to read it at bedtime. Chris ShermanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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