THE HOUSE ON FALLING STAR HILL

Michael Molloy, Author . Scholastic/Chicken House $16.95 (377p) ISBN 978-0-439-57740-3

Molloy (The Witch Trade ) packs this world-next-door fantasy with ideas and vivid imagery, but fails to give readers enough reason to care about Tallis, the parallel universe he imagines as connected to ours through holes punched in the cosmic fabric by falling stars. Tim Swift is spending the summer with his grandparents in the eccentric British town of Enton, where the locals consider it bad luck to plant flowers (yet his grandparents run a nursery, making their living strictly off tourists). Along comes a mysterious man named Hunter, wanting to buy every flower available and plant it on his property. Taken into his employ, Tim meets an odd girl named Sarre and a cadre of dwarf-like men called Treggers. Hunter leads the motley crew through a portal into Tallis, which, unfortunately, feels cobbled together and arbitrary: flowers are currency, wild children hunt adults with poison-tipped spears, a "Killing Wind" carries airborne death, "starways" allow travelers to move through time, but only in increments of a month, and so on. There is a quest, but it is not disclosed until halfway into the book, by which time many readers may have lost interest. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/12/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Children's
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