This literary fantasy (464 pages) was published in July of 2019 by Redhook. The book takes you to Wellington, New Zealand. Melissa read The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
What if you could conjure your favorite characters from the pages of their books into real life? What adventures could you have together? And what could possibly go wrong?
For as long as he can remember, Charley Sutherland has had a magical ability he’s tried to hide: He can bring fictional characters from books into the real world. As you might expect, this gift has unintended consequences, not least of which is the resentment harbored by Charley’s beloved older brother Rob.
Although the boys share a very close bond, their relationship has always been fraught. Rob sags under the burden of protecting Charley — from himself and others — and wonders if his own normalcy means he’s ordinary, boring, less-than his gifted brother.
As an adult, Charley has mostly curbed his powers, but one day, a conjured character slips out of his control with unsettling and perilous results. Soon, he and the reluctantly recruited Rob learn of a Victorian-era street that exists in the shadows of Wellington. A big, life-changing adventure is afoot.
Amidst all the action, this is also an emotional look at family, loyalty, and self-identity. It asks big questions — What do we owe each other? Is protecting someone an act of love or condescension? — and digs into the dangerous fallout of keeping secrets, even with the best of intentions.
The story is a magic portal to the streets of Wellington and the Victorian era. Along the way, you get to hobnob with characters from literary classics including Dorian Gray and Sherlock Holmes, the Scarlet Pimpernel, David Copperfield, characters from Dicken’s Great Expectations, and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.
Seamlessly weaving whimsy with a dark side and plenty of suspense, this is a quirky love letter to great literature and loving bonds that can’t be broken.
When I first came to Wellington to study law, I came because it was the cultural and creative capital of the country. It was where laws were made, and where art was made. It was where governments rose and fell in the House of Parliament named the Beehive, where lively discussions sparked over coffee in quirky cafés, where students drank to flashing strobe lights in the small hours of the morning. I had been there only once or twice, on school visits. I knew its inhabitants always complained about the weather and the hills: it was famous for winds that tore through the city at up to 250 kilometers an hour, rain that lashed its coast to ribbons, and steep slopes, dark with ancient bush, on which wooden colonial houses perched like roosting wood pigeons. I didn’t have feelings about that. I was eighteen and ambitious, and I wanted to build a life in the city. I didn’t need, or expect, to fall in love with it. — H.G. Parry
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