cover image Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Lena Coakley. Abrams/Amulet, $17.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1034-6

Mixing fantasy and literary history, Coakley (Witchlanders) focuses on the works the Bront%C3%ABs created in their youth, much of which survives. In her story, siblings Charlotte and Branwell Bront%C3%AB have the power to travel physically into the world they have created together: the romantic city of Verdopolis, full of star-crossed lovers, glittering nobility, and dashing villains. Their younger sisters, Emily and Anne, used to go along on these trips, but Charlotte and Branwell eventually stopped taking them, without giving any explanation. When Charlotte, prompted by her father's dislike of melodrama, vows to give up visiting her childhood dreamlands, her siblings are angry and confused. Emily, who had always hoped that either Charlotte or Branwell would relent and take her traveling again, begins to wonder how travel between the worlds is possible at all, and whether that power is necessarily reserved for her elders. Coakley's research is solid, her prose is clear, and her plot introduces intriguing ideas about the interplay between reality and fiction, but she doesn't manage the essential task of writing characters who are believably geniuses, capable of accomplishing the things the Bront%C3%ABs eventually did. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.)