I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
PUBLICATION: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, September 1st, 2016
Hen and Izzy had moved from town to town but when their parents buy the old house where their father grew up, they realize this new place is boring. But when they discover they live next door to a witch, this obviously piques their curiosity. Unfortunately, while spying on her, Hen is kidnapped by the Piper and Izzy is thrust into a fantasy world filled with creatures beyond her wildest imagination as she tries to hunt her sister down from the evil Queen Morvanna. Typically when the Piper kidnaps a child, he leaves a Changeling in its place. But not this time. This time its different.
Overall this was a fun book opening up a new world filled with wondrous and memorable creatures mostly focused around the Changelings, creatures that can change into certain animals. I can definitely envision this book opening up a child's imagination. The Changelings were funny and well-developed and even the unlikable ones were, well, likable.
The story centers around Izzy trying to get her sister Hen (weird name) back from the Great Peter the Piper at the Apple Festival. Usually during this festival, children are adopted in this fantasy world known as Faerie. I won't spoil who adopts Hen but it was a nice little plot twist. Unfortunately, the story starts to get a little muddled from here on. Personally, it was hard for me to imagine Morvanna as this evil, big bad guy (or girl) when she wasn't even mentioned in the first 40% of the book. But I digress...
The story moves along nicely in the first half but drags slightly in the second half. Still filled with wonderfully imaginative creatures, Soontornvat does a great job at really opening up this world for sequels involving this creatures and characters that aren't really opened up much in this first novel. But again, around 75% in the book we're introduced to this big fearsome creature known as Lacrimo (which sounds likes a creature that walks around crying... but its not). Just like before, its hard for me to be impressed by a bad guy that seemed like an after thought. And the battle with him was pretty short. Kind of disappointing.
There was one really nice big plot twist at the end that made me appreciate Soontornvat as a legitimate children's author but I won't give that away. Suffice to say it was unexpected (okay... I kinda had a feeling it was coming) and really made the story click a little bit more.
All in all this was a good read and I think kids will like it much more than I did.
I love to read and to discuss books. My preferred genre is sci-fi but I like to read mostly anything.