For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.
There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.
This book is pretty much The Pagemaster meets Inkheart for adults. If that doesn’t entice you, then this book may not be for you but if you’re intrigued, let’s get started with this review!
Charley was my favorite character out of the book but I loved that it had so many fantastic literary characters as well.
H.G. Parry does a great job of giving these famous characters a bit of new life to them while also keeping it light, not going too deep into their literary makings.
Also, Parry knew how to make me laugh. She had three Darcys and the fact that she joked about our beloved BBC version of Pride and Prejudice made me laugh. So, a great cast of characters both from the literary hall of fame and from her own mind. Some characters include Darcy(s), Uriah Heep, Sherlock Holmes, and more that I’ll leave you to discover!
Charley and Rob are brothers and there is something very familiar in their relationship, being a younger sister with a big sister who always felt the need to ‘take care of me’ I could definitely relate to them.
Rob is the older brother and he played the role perfectly. Protective, exasperated, and even though not the best at showing it, loving. He cares deeply for Charley and I loved watching him struggle with not always being able to express that.
Charley is the one with the unique gift, and he looks up to Rob, there is such a sense of awe with how he sees his big brother that I found it completely endearing. That being said, he totally was also the typical younger brother as well, getting into trouble and having his big brother fetch him out of it. But when he gets into trouble it’s vastly different than anyone else, it means there’s a character from a book on the loose. They also discover a place that shouldn’t even be possible to exist but it does and Charley is drawn to it.
At the start of the book, Charley lets out Uriah Heep from David Copperfield and Rob is called to assist.
Rob is more of our MC here than Charley and I enjoyed watching him reluctantly become part of ‘team save the world’ thanks to Charley dragging him along. [I do wish though that I could have had the chance to know Charley more, as he was my favorite character]
Charley realizes there are others with his gift, or at least one more and this person has decided that they want to usher in a new world, one where real people aren’t included.
This makes it a save the day job for Charley and Rob and the cast of characters they have at their disposal. Perhaps the work of Dickens though could be their best source of help. He has a deep impact on this story and being a fan of Dickens means that this was another plus for me. I feel Parry really understands how to elevate some of these classics by him and others without making it in the style of a classic or older novel itself. It’s quite grounded in the modern-day and set in Wellington, which makes for a nice change of pace!
There’s a moped, streets that exist in liminal space, and a cute dog. I mean, I know it sounds like I’m trying to sell you this novel, it’s because I am. I loved this book so much and I already know it’s one of my favorites for 2020.
I don’t want to get into things too much with the characters and saving the world, mostly because I want you to be able to find out these delightful things on your own, to make this experience as unspoiled as possible because this truly was a reading experience.
Adventure, heartwarming family moments, some huge plot twists, and again a cast of characters from the hall of fame and new ones to love make this a five star read for me. Or in my case, I gave it five huge cups of coffee.
Thank you very much to Compulsive Readers and Orbit Books for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.