Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 227
Discover your power within.
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The mystery of four missing children emerges when three of them suddenly appear twelve years later. The fact they have no memory of their disappearance allows readers to wonder, but the question of what happened to the fourth boy Max adds a twist. Astrid is determined to save her brother but that requires an understanding of what happened. A twelve-day deadline creates additional suspense as days go by. Dora was with the kids when they disappeared from kindergarten nap time, but no one knows why she was left behind. People think she’s crazy when they hear her account of the events so she’s now reluctant to share what she saw. The whole plot focuses on Astrid’s efforts to solve the mystery, find her little brother, and bring him safely home.
The kids receive mixed reactions when they reappear, but the general public is consistently rude, nosy, and opinionated. Astrid’s mother has been ill since her disappearance, and her uncle, cousin, and grandmother are not happy to see Astrid return. Dora’s father becomes very angry and violent when her friends come back, and Sophia’s mother already had her declared legally dead years earlier. The village is male-dominated and the Elders set rules and pass judgment for all citizens to follow. The strict atmosphere is stifling and suffocates the young people. The teens find little understanding and support to help them heal.
The story has an air of the supernatural, but the author keeps any specifics vague for the first half of the book. Children wear tattoos to guard against evil spirits and spells are cast at bedtime to ward off demons. Astrid suffers nightmares to the point that she’s afraid she’ll be attacked by shadowy creatures if she falls asleep. The ceremonial bonfire lit during a holiday celebration goes out and villagers are unable to get it relit. A dead cat is found among its ashes and other animals start dying around town and in the woods. Something evil has clearly targeted the town, but what? The truth behind Max’s disappearance is a huge, expected twist as the plot nears its climax.
What didn’t work as well:
The plot in the first half of the book progresses steadily, but slowly. Astrid tries to learn what happened twelve years ago but receives almost no assistance. The continual resistance she encounters helps to develop the conflict but it also keeps the mystery from moving forward. The second half of the book is chocked full of tension and suspense as secrets are revealed and Astrid realizes what must be done. The resolution leaves me wondering.
The Final Verdict:
Discover your power within. After establishing the conflict and backstories in the early pages, the plot becomes an exciting, supernatural mystery with surprises, twists, and imagination along the way. I can easily recommend you give this book a shot.
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