Lost Children of the Far Islands
By Emily Raabe
Expected publication April 8, 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Gus, Leo, and Ila live in Maine with their parents, mostly normal lives. But then, their mother becomes ill and soon, the children find themselves whisked away to a mysterious island inhabited by someone called the Morai. Who is she? And what is making their mother sick? Can the kids find a way to save her?
I think I've said before that I'm a sucker for any book set in Maine; it's where I grew up and where most of my family still lives and, even if I never live there again, there's something magical about it. So, the setting of this book and it being a middle-grade title led to my requesting the e-galley when I spotted it.
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book. I quite frequently see reviews which complain about authors who break the "show not tell" rule when conveying information in a book. I admit that I don't often notice this while reading. However, this book felt like it was telling me everything, and not in a particularly interesting way. I had a really hard time with the characters as well. None of the kids felt believable or sympathetic, which feels like a really weird thing to say about child characters. Ila was particularly troubling in the beginning.
This book also feels rather dark and hopeless a lot of the time. I don't have a problem with dark books for kids, but something about this one just felt off. The action moves along very predictably, which is disappointing. I enjoyed that Raabe chose to explore Celtic mythology, as one doesn't often see that in children's books, but even that felt pretty half-hearted. Overall, I feel like this book had potential, but didn't really capitalize on it.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.