The Crosswood

Orca. (Orca Currents). Jan. 2021. 120p. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781459826625.
Gr 4-7–Fourteen-year-old Blue, who has brown hair and dark eyes, might be firstborn, but he feels third-best. His mom spends all of her time—and half of his—making sure his foster 10-year-old blonde twin siblings Indigo and Violet are never out of earshot. She even homeschools them while Blue attends the local high school. But when the twins vanish into a magical wood, Blue learns his foster brother and sister are not his siblings at all; they are a prince and princess of the Fairy world, adopted as part of a deal his mother made to save Blue’s life. Now that the twins are lost, the fairy contract has been broken, and a life is owed—unless Blue can find his adopted siblings and bring them back before sunset. Readers will appreciate Prendergast’s clever ideas, such as the ghost sword and the different fairy kingdoms of Nearwood, Farwood, and where they meet, the Crosswood—but they may find the plot heavy handed and cramped while traveling through several fairy worlds and back in 120 sparsely texted pages. Unfortunately, the characters feel flat, making it difficult to be emotionally invested in their outcome. While the intention seems to be to grab older readers with lower reading skills, it’s hard to imagine many 14-year-olds reading about 10-year-old fairies.
VERDICT A solid plot that needs fleshing out. Readers not yet ready for the heft of Chris Colfer’s “Land of Stories” may give it a try, but it misses the mark for older reluctant readers.

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