Blue Window

576p. Candlewick. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763660369.
Gr 7 Up—In this harrowing fantasy, 13-year-old twins Susan and Max, along with their three younger sisters, fall through their inexplicably-turned-blue living room window, landing in a strange world where people have hazy features that fluctuate between human and sharp-toothed animals. The cruel ruler is awed by the siblings' unusually smooth faces and sends them to a lab for experimentation, a terrifying fate that involves cutting. Susan summons a previously unknown magical strength, allowing them to escape. Pursued by animal and human monsters, they eventually find sanctuary in a hidden city where Max is taken for special training because he is male. Although the people look normal and they are safe, the cultish atmosphere makes the sisters uncomfortable, even as they develop some extraordinary new powers. An epic battle occurs before order is restored and the children return home. Characterization comes gradually as the book is presented from the points of view of each sibling from oldest to youngest. Chapters are interspersed with the perspective of a mysterious person called "the exile" who hints of a prophesy involving five special beings and plays an important role at the end of the book. Although the plot device invites comparisons to C.S. Lewis, this tale is much more sinister and lacks the joy and sense of wonder of the "Narnia" series. There are some fanciful scenes, but the overall mood is tense and frightening.
VERDICT Themes of human experimentation and animalistic behavior are best left to more mature readers, in spite of the young ages of the protagonists. An additional purchase.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT

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