William Sleator, Author . Dutton $16.99 (161p) ISBN 978-0-525-46441-9

This prequel to Sleator's open-ended thriller, The Boxes, answers almost all the questions readers of the first book might have had about the pathetic, crab-like creatures and (heroine Annie's) mysterious, ageless Uncle Marco. Though missing the uniquely creepy horror elements that characterize many of Sleator's novels, the book is riveting for the ethical dilemma it poses: 12-year-old adventurer Marco and his psychic, hyper-sensitive sister, Lilly, find a strange tunnel in their basement. Inside is another world, and a group of odd, blind, religious beings, "shiny, purplish creatures... like insects with six limbs and ridged, carapaced heads," telepathically contact Lilly. They say Lilly is a "medium" who can help them complete a dangerous ritual to appease their malevolent god, "The Unknowable." Should the children help, and at what cost to their own impoverished family? Might the creatures be lying for nefarious ends? More satisfying than its predecessor, and full of strange and startling details, this curious fantasy will spark readers' imaginations and send them right back to The Boxes for a glimpse of Marco's future. Ages 10-14. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/21/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Genre: Children's
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