Beautiful descriptions evoke 1930s Alabama in Jess Loury’s The ToadHouse Trilogy. A brother and sister aren’t quite the same as everybody else. And suddenly the world around them isn’t quite the same as everyone imagined either. Touches of mystery foreshadow disaster, and that very strange first chapter begins to make sense. Then the story takes off, as does the Toadhouse.
The concept reminds me a little of Cornelia Funke’s Inheart, with fictional characters proving as real as Aine and her brother. Together with the curious Gilgamesh, they pursue their quest through the pages of familiar novels, making this a wonderful book to remind young readers of the classics, entice them to read more, inspire literary conversation with their parents, and broaden their tastes—after all, who wouldn’t want to read the Time Machine, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Sinbad and more?
Jess Loury’s novel is the first in a trilogy, but it’s pleasingly complete in itself, enjoyably written and a nice smooth read. Occasional editing slips or unconvincing leaps of logic are easily excused. With the overactive guilt and suspicion of teenaged Aine nicely balanced by the childish exuberance of her blind brother, the overall effect is a fun story for middle-grade readers, filled with mystery, excitement, action, adventure, world-famous literary characters and the feel of a dark, almost grown-up fairy-tale—highly recommended.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to buy a free copy. I really enjoyed the book.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
Jess Lourey is the author of The Toadhouse Trilogy: Book One, the first in a young adult series that celebrates the danger and excitement of reading. She also writes the critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month Mysteries for adults with a sense of humor. She's been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998. When not gardening, writing, or hanging out with her wonderful kids and dorky dog, Juni, you can find her reading, watching SyFy-channel original movies, and dreaming big.