cover image The Shadow of Malabron

The Shadow of Malabron

Thomas Wharton, . . Candlewick, $16.99 (382pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3911-2

Some readers may be initially disappointed that Wharton's children's book debut, first in the planned Perilous Realm trilogy, scoops up so many common fantasy elements: someone from our world accidentally ends up in a magical world, immediately meets a helper as danger threatens and later encounters a wise older character who knows the land's geography and history. But a fun twist awaits: the world where teenage Will Lightfoot finds himself (the aptly named Perilous Realm) is the place where all of Earth's stories originate (“The storytellers in your world have always traveled to the Realm, either in the flesh, as you have, or in their dreams and imaginings,” Will learns from the toymaker, Pendrake). Will and his companions seek a way home while fighting the minions of the evil Malabron, who is trying to enslave the entire realm, as well as other dangers. Most elements of the story are predictable, but the ways the characters deal with them are less so, and Will's companions move beyond their familiar tropes. Young readers will find much to keep them turning pages. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)