Monday, March 5, 2012

Hollow Earth by John Barrowman and Carole E. Barrowman

Matt and Emily (Em) are not your average 'tweens - they're twins for starters, but they also have inherited an amazing ability from their mother, the ability to imagine things into being.  It seems like an amazing gift, but it draws attention to the twins at a time when their powers are growing and changing.  Their mother seems distracted, and when they slip up and animate themselves into a painting in a public place, their mother Sandie decides to move the family to a safe place. 

Barely escaping from the people who want to stop the twins from using their powers again, Matt and Em discover that their grandfathers house is more than they could ever have dreamed of - a place where their abilities are not only accepted, but they are also encouraged to develop them properly.  But the Abbey is not the safe place Sandie thought it would be, danger has followed them to the island, and the twins will need to untangle the confusion around them if they are to understand what is really happening - and to prevent a disaster that could spell the end of the world as we know it.

This is the first book in a series from John Barrowman and his sister Carole E. Barrowman, and if the rest of the series is written to this same high standard then there could be another cult classic series for children to enjoy now and for decades to come.  The writing style is vivid and engaging from start to finish, making one of the most remarkable reads for children I have read in a long time, a truly original storyline that takes you by surprise at times, while also keeping the idea that there are "rules" that keep things moving in a sensible way. 

The characters are well written, and Em and Matt in particular keep you focused on the story as the plot unfolds for them and for the reader at the same time.  There are the good guys and the bad guys, but neither group is cliched or over written - these are real world characters with flaws and good points.  Without giving away too much of the plot, you get to see Matt and Em grow through the story, becoming more aware of the world around them and their place in that world.  This is not a short read, but it reads so well that you don't tend to notice that it is over 300 pages long. 

If you like this book then try:
  • Stone heart by Charlie Fletcher
  • Finding the fox by Ali Sparkes
  • Under the mountain by Maurice Gee
  • The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
  • Northwood by Brian Falkner
  • The Halfmen of O by Maurice Gee
  • Museum of thieves by Lian Tanner
  • The roar by Emma Clayton
  • The storm begins by Damian Dibben

Reviewed by Brilla

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