A different kingdom of wolves, woods and stranger, darker, creatures lies in wait for Michael Fay in the woods at the bottom of his family’s farm.
Michael Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods there are wolves; and other things, dangerous things. He doesn’t tell his family, not even his Aunt Rose, his closest friend.
And then, as Michael wanders through the trees, he finds himself in the Other Place. There are strange people, and monsters, and a girl called Cat.
When the wolves follow him from the Other Place to his family’s doorstep, Michael must choose between locking the doors and looking away – or following Cat on an adventure that may take an entire lifetime in the Other Place.
Ok, I had some real issues with this book. My biggest problem was with the sexual relationships. Michael is young (around 10) at the very beginning of the book, yet he has a quasi-sexual experience with his Aunt Rose who is probably in her late teens. Then, when Michael is 13, he meets Cat and begins a sexual relationship with her. He then follows Cat into the Other Place and undergoes an ageing experience unlike any other. He spends maybe a year in the woods, but by the time we near the end of his stay, he has gray hair. Talk about a time warp! Since Cat is from the Other Place, she stays the same age throughout. So, it’s creepy in the beginning because she’s older than him and then it’s creepy in the end because he’s older than her. I just struggled with the whole age/sex issue all the way through.
My second issue was with the time jumps. In the beginning, you are being shifted back and forth between Michael as a child and Michael in the Other Place. Then, about half way through the book, you start getting shifted from Michael in the Other Place to grown-up Michael after he has returned from the Other Place. Unfortunately, the only clues you were given about the shifts were that they always started at a new paragraph. So, the first couple of sentences of every paragraph were spent figuring out what world you were in. I was confused on more than one occasion. It would have helped if there had been some definitive breaks marking the transitions. Note: I was reading an ARC and this may get cleared up before its official release.
Problem number 3 was the needless amount of time talking about the woods in the Other Place. Almost every chapter started off with paragraphs of description about what Michael’s surroundings looked like and how they smelled. By the end of the book, I was thoroughly tired of reading about the smell of rotting leaf mould. If Kearney had just done the descriptions when there was a scene change, it probably would have cut 50 pages off the length.
I know I totally ranted up there and made it sound like I hated this book, but I didn’t. I really enjoyed the plot. It raised some interesting questions and was quite thought-provoking. Some of the scenarios I thought about…
- What would you be like if you were able to grow up twice and could remember everything from the first time?
- If you had lived a lifetime in the Other Place and knew you could return to your original world, but you would be a kid, would you?
- What would it be like to be a warrior in one world and then return to your world as a kid? (I imagine this would leave you with some serious PTSD!)
I enjoyed watching how Michael transitioned in the book. He made the first transition from our world to the Other Place effortlessly, but the transition back to our world didn’t go quite so smoothly. Michael as an adult in our world struggled immensely. The Other Place haunted him his entire life. He could never get free from it even after leaving.
There were some really great concepts in this book, but I kept getting bogged down in the writing. It felt really rambly to me in spots. (Yes, I’m making up words.) I think if it had been a bit more concise, I would have enjoyed it more.
I’d like to give a shout out to Netgalley.com, Solaris and Paul Kearney for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.