Today I finished reading Betwixters: Once Upon a Time, the first in a series of children’s fantasy novels by Laura C Cantu. This is a book that I picked up and started reading several times over before I was able to settle into it. However, once I read on a little, the plot did keep me reading.
We meet Neevya, a faerie custodian of the magical forest of Ayin, who gathers sunlight beams to nourish the land. In a nice twist, Neevya doesn’t believe in humans, thinking of them as mythical, monstrous beings. She is forced to change her mind when she is pulled downstream and through a Precarious Portal into the human realm. There, in the Dark Woods on the edge of Herogate in northern England, she meets 12-year-old children Noah Walters, Skye Williams and Ethan Castleton – and of course they had had no belief in another, faerie, realm either. The novel chronicles the characters’ growing understanding and fondness for one another, as the children try to help Neevya return to her own world and rescue one another from many dangers.
This novel explores the world of school; the relationships of adolescents with parents, teachers and peers; bullying; friendship; compassion; and caring for the earth. It does this alongside telling a fantasy adventure story of faeries, gnomes, bellweathers, chandours, betwixters, humans and magic, with scary moments and suspense.
My only quibble with Betwixters is the writing style: I find personally that all the adjectives pull me out of the story and dilute the atmosphere of danger; and why set the story in England but use a very American voice (Noah is from the US but the others are not, eg Ethan would have a garden not a yard)? Just set it in the US. Again this stopped me being immersed in the novel, which is a shame because it is a fine story.
Hopefully these niggles will be sorted out for Book Two, giving the novel wider appeal and allowing full rein to the suspenseful storyline.
I received this book free from NetGalley in return for an honest review. I gave the book 3 stars.
Betwixters: Once Upon a Time was released in the UK on 27 June 2017.