Never pandering to younger readers, this fast-paced and exciting YA fantasy features rich characters and a compelling plot.
In Between & Betwixt, the first book of the Corridor of Doors Trilogy, B & T Pecile introduce the fast-paced and exciting story of a pair of orphaned siblings who discover that the world is not at all what it seems. With a nod to the conventions of other young adult fantasy novels, the book quickly sets itself apart with a complex and layered world, motivated and rich characters, and a plot that keeps readers guessing.
The lives of Khia Ashworth and her little brother, Devon, don’t hold much hope. Bounced between foster homes, they quickly realize they can only rely on each other. Just as things are starting to calm down with their newest host family, Khia begins to feel that something is wrong. After their church mysteriously burns down, they find themselves on the run, pulled along by a pair of bumbling protectors as they run from the persistent and terrifying Burdock and Cocklebur. But they’re followed by something else as well, something that shouldn’t be real. A shadow, slippery and cunning, whose only thought is to do its master’s bidding. To survive, they will need to trust their unlikely guardians, and seek the help of those who hold an ancient power. As they flee, Khia feels a stirring deep inside, and knows their lives will never be the same again.
The characters, plot, and writing style combine to make this an ideal book for young adults. Readers of fantasy will recognize some familiar themes—a young girl as the chosen one, pursued by evil, and helped by a spiritual teacher—but instead of slipping into cliché, the authors tell a unique and engaging story. The result is a tale of resilience and inner strength led by a young girl’s desperation to find the truth about her family.
The characters are varied and rich, and like the story itself, they play into archetypes without losing their individuality. Norbert and McBride manage to be both menacing and silly, and act as excellent guides as the story travels from the mundane to the fantastic. Khia herself fits the young hero role well, with an admirable inner strength combined with a sophistication that lets her face adversity without faltering. Readers grow with her as she learns to trust those around her and discovers the truth about who she really is.
Critically, the authors never pander to younger readers, and instead write with a clarity and respect that many in this genre fail to achieve. Though there is an overuse of ellipses, capitalized nouns, and words said directly to the reader (“You many recall that…”), overall it is a pleasant and compelling read.
More importantly, when the last page was finished, the wait for part two already seems too long. Between & Betwixt is recommended to anyone who loves sophisticated young adult fantasy and is looking to jump into an exciting new series.
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.