The monster's eyes scanned the darkness. Hide. Hide. Hide...
Twins Emily and Matt Calder have imaginations so powerful that they can make art come to life. Their powers are sought by villains intent on accessing the terrors of Hollow Earth - a place where all the devils, demons, and monsters ever imagined lie trapped for eternity. If Hollow Earth is breached, the world will be plunged into chaos. If Hollow Earth is breached...
...the twins are as good as dead.
Paperback copy, 326 pages. Bought online from Amazon (I believe - we use several different online book sites).
Published: 2012 by Buster.
This book has given me mixed feelings.
First of all, the WORLD! Animares - people who can animate art - and their Guardians, who protect them from the eyes of the world. It takes place first in London, then for most of the book, in a seemingly-made-up place called Auchinmurn Isle, which I believe is meant to be in Scotland. At least, I think it's made up. My first glance through Google says "Auchinairn", which does not seem to be an island.
But anyways, I love the premise. The Guardians and Animares vs. the world. The twins are special even in this strange world, because their mother is Animare, their father Guardian. And Guardians and Animares are forbidden to have children together because of the strong combination of magic in them.
The problem arises when the head of the Council of Guardian wants to bind their imagination inside a painting, to prevent these powerful twins from getting out of control. The decision not to leads to a group of people called the Hollow Earth Society, decides to take advantage of this by trying to kidnap them in order to force them into opening Hollow Earth.
The characters in this book are all awesome. There's kindly Jeannie, the cook. There's Mara and Simon, their mom's friends, and Zach, Simon's deaf son. Renard, their grandfather, is a powerful man on the Council of Guardians. Also, Vaughn, a mysterious but good man, shows up several times. In all, there are a lot of interesting secondary characters, some of whom I found even more interesting than the twins.
Threaded through this present-day debacle is another story, another timeline. In this one, a boy named Solon in the Middle Ages on the same Isle helps save a village from a Viking raid. It ties in with the plot somehow, but how it does is in the shadows a bit.
The action is pretty nice in this novel. Also, a plus: very little romance! Well, a plus for me. The action isn't the sword-and-battle sort; most of the battle is drawn with pens (or charcoal, or pencil, or paint). There is some hand-to-hand fighting. Only one sword, but lots of drawings. This is my kind of novel: action, little romance, and far-off places that may or may not be real.
There were a couple of problems I had with this novel: one is that occasionally characters would refer to the person they're speaking to by name. You know what I mean, like:
"Bob, are you alright?" (This is not an actual quote from the book, obviously; just an example.)
In real life, people just don't do that. Or if they do, it sounds awkward. Writing like that detracts from the quality. Beyond that little problem (which only happened a couple of times), it was pretty well done, but that one thing irked me.
Another problem is the ending. I won't spoil it, I just thought that... it was missing something. That not all the loose ends were wrapped up. I don't know if there's a sequel coming or not, but the ending to this felt a little lacking. They could probably write a sequel tying up the (pretty big) loose ends.
But I love the creativity. There are creatures I've never heard of, paintings I've never seen, places I've never visited. That last one is pretty easy to write about, but the first is nice to come across. The characters, setting, and creativity are all wonderful.
I would recommend this to you if you can look over my little quirks. It was a bit of a scrambled ending, but the idea captured my imagination. 4 stars.
By the way, John Barrowman plays in Doctor Who. Excuse me while I happy dance. *Meep!*