Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. Now her crumbling Victorian mansion lies vacant. When 11-year-old Olive and her dippy mathematician parents move in, she knows there’s something odd about the place—not least the walls covered in strange antique paintings. But when Olive finds a pair of old spectacles in a dusty drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet: She can travel inside these paintings to a world that’s strangely quiet...and eerily like her own. Yet Elsewhere harbors dark secrets—and Morton, an undersized boy with an outsize temper.
As she and Morton form an uneasy alliance, Olive finds herself ensnared in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. It’s up to Olive to save the house from the dark shadows, before the lights go out for good. Jacqueline West weaves a tale at turns haunting, moving, and darkly.
©2010 Jacqueline West (P)2010 Penguin
I have a 10 year old step-son who is NOT into reading! Going into 6th grade, this is obviously making us all crazier than usual. His Mom has tried some audio books for him rented from the library but it didn't take. The kids hear me listening to my audio books all the time and sometimes they chime in so I thought this one could be for us. We mostly listened to it in the car, but it took a while as we live in a small town and don't drive too far between places, but we loved getting in the car!!! His Dad and I were worried as the main character is a girl, but it didn't bother him. The story is great, entertaining and well put together. The characters are consistent and the narration, in my opinion, works perfect for Olive and all the characters. I highly recommend this for all ages (the 13 year old liked doing errands with us all of a sudden... Not because he liked the book or anything, lol) I thoroughly enjoyed this first installment and am looking forward to starting book 2 next week!!!!
My students are reviewing Bluebonnet nominees for this year, so I decided to read this book with them. I was worried that my boys would not be as interested in the story due to its female main character, however all of my students truly enjoyed all of the characters, plot, and narration. They have asked me to continue reading the series!
Normally not a fan of children books, but I was looking for something different. The sample blew me away with the excellent range of voices displayed by the narrator, Lexy Fridell.
I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.
A family moves into a new house where the daughter, Olive, soon discovers weird things happen. If that set-up sounds familiar, it plays that way too.
The Shadows (Book 1 of Elsewhere) feels like a little bit of Coraline, a little bit of the Spiderwick Chronicles, and a little bit of Amulet. There are talking cats, plucky characters, and magical paintings. Unfortunately, our protagonist Olive is a bit on the bland side. She has two amusing and aloof mathematician parents, but doesn't have quite so much to distinguish her from Coraline, Hermione Granger, or even Mallory Grace. Additionally, it's pretty clear to the listener who the villains are immediately, which makes it all the more frustrating when Olive chooses to trust them. Often, it feels like West is just taking us through motions of a ride we've been on dozens of times before.
Lexy Fridell is clearly having a blast narrating the story and voicing the characters, which gives the audiobook a big boost and makes it more enjoyable. You can almost imagine her in a dark room, holding a flashlight in front of her face with a big grin as she performs.
That said, despite the solid narration and the spooky fun vibe of the atmosphere, the story suffers from a bland protagonist and a familiar set-up, without offering any real surprises. It isn't a bad book. It's just overly familiar and safe.
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This story moves right along with never a dull moment. From opening to ending children, of all ages will be afraid of the dark, and brave and triumph against evil. Some bits may be a bit too scary for younger bedtimes. But all in all, a ripping good story that does not dumb or talk down, with all the traditional bits- plus cats. The narration fits perfectly with the character.
I would listen to this book again, it was a great read with so much imagination put into it. I am sure another time I would even get more from it.
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