Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Part mystery, part literary puzzle, part life-and-death quest, and chillingly magical, this novel has plenty of suspense for adventure fans and is a treat for readers who love books, words, and clues. Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory. The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam's older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process.
Future English Lit majors will see themselves in Rosie and Adam, who are equally comfortable with Harry Potter as they are with Shakespeare. Edward Eager, Edith Nesbit, Neil Gaiman, and a host of other beloved children’s authors get a mention or two, making me squeal in delight. These are my people – this is my language! That of books.
“I curl up with a book, one I know well, and reading words I could recite from memory is like snuggling under a warm blanket.”
How easily the synopsis lured me – two children find a mysterious old book in a locked cupboard. It is magical and soon it wreaks terrifying consequences in Rosie’s and Adam’s lives.
Zimmerman could have just gone with a more conventional, middle grade plot, but here she does something more profound, marrying magic with reading in its most powerful state. Words have power. Words have magic. It’s one thing to mindlessly escape into some other world within the pages of a book, but it’s another to actually understand and respect what words can accomplish. Rosie and Adam have to somehow set things right and turn to the close reading of poetry for an antidote to the book’s havoc.
The plot starts slowly, but picks up around 100 pages. It’s perfect for the discriminating junior book lover.