From the back of the book:
How far will you go to find your way home?
Emma and her father are always on the move, traveling from place to place as her father’s work demands, until they move into a strange building in a strange city. Their new home is certainly different. There’s a frightening oman who lives down the hall, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a witch. There’s a mysterious light that comes from her apartment, a small boy trapped inside, and basement brownies in the vents.
Haunted by visions of her mother, Emma follows the brownies down the vent to a land deep within the earth, where she travels through the brownies’ burrow to the valley of Hades to visit with the goddess Ceres, following a series of clues that lead her across the sea of memory to the center of the world.
There, on an inhospitable rock floating in a sea of steaming lava, she must find a way to defeat the witch and restore life to the brownie burrows, and by extension, to the human world above.
I received this book at Blissdom Canada in October. I meant to read it earlier. Much earlier. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick it up until this past weekend. But once I did, I couldn’t put it down. It pulled me in right from the beginning, was fast paced, and full of so much adventure and excitement.
I love how Gough pulled on different kinds of mythology in her book – most particularly the Greek and Scottish mythology that we see throughout the whole novel. I’m a sucker for anything mythological, and these just happen to be two of my favourites.
This is a cute novel, which middle grade readers will quite enjoy. The main character, Emma, is accessible and although she’s going through fantastical events, she’s also dealing with stuff that a lot of children will find relatable. It’s pretty cool how the bullies in Emma’s school are reflected in the gorgons that she meets in her adventures, and how her school principal is reflected in a troll who is supposed to protect Emma in Hades (and beyond). It seems like the author did a lot of planning for this book ahead of time, and it ended up turning out really well.
The Bottom Line
Definitely cute, and I would certainly pass this along to middle grade readers who are looking for a good fantasy novel.