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Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories Hardcover – July 5, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–Twelve short stories and one novella are stitched together with the popular Australian author's commentary on his writing life. Nix includes one choose-your-own-adventure type story, Down to the Scum Quarter. A spoof on the genre, it takes place primarily in a bordello and is rife with literary and role-play allusions, but lacks a satisfying story arc. Other selections, more traditional in format, include a disturbingly gory and unforgettable Hansel and Gretel set in a dark cityscape, two spin-offs from Arthurian legend, and a Western fantasy that owes more to the movies than to history. In the novella, Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case, the scion of a political family wants nothing more than to cross the forbidden Wall and be reunited with his friends in the Old Kingdom, where magic is practiced and understood. To that end, Nicholas agrees to engage in espionage for his powerful uncle, only to be swept up in a terrifying scenario as a mummified monster is brought to life with his blood. Readers of the author's bestselling Abhorsen trilogy (Morrow/Avon) will find themselves right at home in this horror/fantasy/mystery but those new to this world will find the first pages slow going as they try to piece together the nature of the alternative reality and to identify offstage characters and events. At times self-indulgent (the text of the author's first book, written at age six, is included in his notes), this collection will nonetheless delight true fans.–Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-10. The jacket of this short story collection features Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon's representations of Lirael and Nick--the same Ancelstierran who unwittingly served as the Destroyer's pawn in book three of the Abhorsen Trilogy. The image corresponds to the opening novella, in which Nick encounters a bloodsucking Free Magic monster during a visit to Ancelstierre's top-secret intelligence agency. The story teasingly refers to British mysteries and spy fiction, parodic elements that will appeal most to Nix's adult fans. Even less-experienced readers, though, will enjoy getting to know Nick on his own terms, unhampered by the evil influences of a body-stealing demon. The remaining 11 stories (all unrelated to Nix's best-known alternate reality) include selections clearly intended for middle-graders as well as more sophisticated offerings containing frank references to sex and violence spattered with "blood and brains and urine." Buy this with the understanding that the packaging will attract the full spectrum of Nix's fans, but that younger ones may get more than they bargained for. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; First Edition edition (July 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060747137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060747138
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,780,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Garth Nix changed the face of dark fantasy with his tales of Sabriel, Lirael and the gruesome enemies they defeated. Now he provides not only a novella in the world of the Abhorsen Trilogy, but several other short stories that he has penned over the years -- dark, chilling, beautiful and amusing.

After the events of "Abhorsen," Nicholas Sayre has decided that he wants to go to the Old Kingdom, to be near Sabriel and Lirael. Unfortunately, he gets sidetracked at a secret government base. Then a maddened official steals his blood to awaken a hideous Free Magic creature, which has lain dormant inside a clear case. Now the creature is on a rampage, seeking more blood to increase its power -- and Nicholas has no way to stop it.

That novella, called "The Creature In the Case," is the main draw for this collection of short stories. But it's also not the only one -- Nix includes several other stories: A pair of Arthurian stories, one about Nimue and the other about the Lady of the Lake; a man comes to the island of Lisden as its new owner... not knowing that he's been duped; and a young boy is enlisted by his grandfather to help save a forest from his greedy dad. Nix also shows off his more playful side in "Down to the Scud Corner," a hilarious spoof of those "choose your own adventure" books.

There are also darker stories in here as well. One story focuses on sex and death, as a young man tries to save the local girls from a lover who can call down lightning. And "Charlie Rabbit" is a surprisingly harrowing story about two boys hiding in a flooded building during a war. And the fairy-tale adaptation "Hansel's Eyes," while not unusually dark, has a rather macabre ending.
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Format: Hardcover
Garth Nix is a great writer. He is one of the most inventive writers in the fantasy genre today (the Abhorsen trilogy is a testimony to this). His plots are much different from other plots; he isn't using the same worn-out story lines. He also isn't overly given to prose like some writers of the genre, but his writing style is fluid and has enough details to keep the reader satisfied.

This collection of short stories (and a novella) is one to treasure. It starts with a novella about Nicholas Sayre, whom you might remember from the Abhorsen trilogy. I loved this story; it was a great continuation to an amazing trilogy.

The short stories are aplenty. They range from a western-style story with a fantastical twist to some Authurian tales that are quite unique. But, one of my personal favourites of this collection was a very short story called "Endings". It is kind of dark fantasy. The story is, coincidentally enough, about two endings: sorrow and joy. It's one of those stories that sticks in your mind and makes you keep thinking about it. It is by no means definite, but that's one of the reasons I like it.

Most of the stories in this collection lean toward dark fantasy and can deal with serious issues, such as war. However, Mr. Nix did include some funny material. "Down to the Scum Quarter" is in the paragraph-choice game format, and it is somewhat of a parody. It is quite funny, and I found it very creative. It was a lot of fun to have this little interactive section; it's a fun game to play.

Overall, I think readers of Nix's other works (and even people who haven't read works by Nix) will enjoy this. It's a collection filled with creativity and uniqueness.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have grown to love the long, intricate yarns of Garth Nix's Sabriel, Lirael, etc. The stories in this book, except for the first one, are very short and un-nourishing. I wasn't as entranced and engaged as I hoped. Looking forward to his next full novel!
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Format: Hardcover
Existing fans and newcomers alike will quickly fall into this latest title from Garth Nix as he proves his versatility as a storyteller. A wide and interesting array of subjects and settings provides fantasy readers with a good read. ACROSS THE WALL is a collection of the author's previously published short stories. However, it opens with "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case," a novella Nix wrote out of "the desire to see what happened next" to character Nicholas Sayre from The Abhorsen Trilogy.

Throughout the book, Nix is candid with readers about facts that went into the production of each short story. Information about his writing techniques and practices also are sprinkled among the pages. Readers who already appreciate Nix's fantasy adventure stories will enjoy the snippets as they add interesting background to each story. As a writer, I found it intriguing to follow Nix's patterns of note taking, ideas, and outlining so much that I chose to visit his website where I found even more details on how he creates his work.

Nix claims to be "someone who doesn't like the Arthurian mythos," but provides readers two stories written from his fantastical perspective of King Arthur and surrounding characters, primarily Merlin. "Under the Lake" explores Arthurianna from the eyes and mind of The Lady of the Lake. "Heart's Desire" retells the story of Merlin and Nimue "in a different light." Both present a sort of History Camelot and both clamor with the empty sounds of choosing power over love.

A dry wit permeates "From the Lighthouse" as Nix portrays a larger than life millionaire madman who thinks he has bought an island to assuage his entrepreneurial desires.
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