“‘Their voice is clear and true, yet it us not breathed, not carried upon the air. It echoes like thought inside the skull, speaking words where none are spoken.’
Gabblety Row was quite the most peculiar and ramshackle building in town. Its undulating walls, hiddledy-piggledy red tiles and winding iron drainpipes all showed an utter disregard for straight lines. The frontage of four shops with three floors above rose in an astonishing disarray of red brick and dark brown beams, leaning here and lurching there until it reached the garret rooms at its top.”
Having spent the past few years running through the hallways of Gabblety Row on errands for his uncle Sylas Tate has learnt where to step and where to avoid. He knows to keep his uncle happy he has to stick to a tight schedule and since his mother died, he knows his uncle is all he’s got. Then one day The Shop of Things appears in the row of shops on the bottom floor of Gabblety Row, intrigued Slyas steps in and meets the weird and wonderful Mr Zhi. Mr Zhi shares some of his Things with Sylas, and lets him leave with a mysterious book, telling him it will help him. That evening Slyas finds out some home truths about his mother, and when a bell rings out that only Slyas can here, he finds himself following it in the search for more of the truth. The bell takes him to the Other world, a world in which war is raging and Sylas must help the Shul if they are to survive. Sylas mustn’t be scared and he must travel to this world and help if he is to be all he can be.
I love fantasy, but sometimes it doesn’t love me. I start fantasy books and find they are too heavy going and no matter how much I love them I can’t carry on. It happened with The Northern Lights series when I was a teenager, and the Lord of the Rings series a few years ago. I thought it may happen with The Bell Between Worlds but this book was so good I couldn’t stop, I had to carry on and my oh my, the perseverance paid off!
Not since Harry Potter have I devoured a fantasy world as much as this. The storyline was amazing and the entire book is full of weird and wonderful things. The Other world that Slyas travels to is almost like a mirror of our world, there are some differences but its easy to see the similarities. In this world there is a myth and we soon learn that Sylas has a lot to do with that Myth… and he must help the people of this world by carrying out the prophecy associated with that Myth. This part of the story doesn’t happen for quite a while so I won’t delve into it too much in fear of spoilers. Essentially though, that is what kept me reading, I loved the idea of it all and had to find out if things happened.
The book is the first in a series and I honestly cannot wait for the next. All of the characters are incredible, and some of them are very hard to figure out. I need to know what happens to them after the events in this book and I have to know soon. I think Simia was probably my favourite character as she was just so strong willed despite having gone through the things she had. Slyas was another firm favourite and I was obviously rooting for him the entire way through. Espen was incredibly complex and so was Bayleon but this made me like them even more.
The world in which the book was set was, as I’ve already said, weird and wonderful. I could picture everything and sometimes it honestly felt like the words were forming pictures in my mind. I felt the tension resonate within me when scary bits were happening and I felt sadness when I discovered things about the characters. I had a serious connection with this book and I think it was probably one of my favourite books of the year so far; the only thing missing was a map… all great fantasy books come with a map.
I would definitely recommend The Bell Between Worlds if you love your fantasy, the publishers on the back of the proof copies claim that it is similar to Phillip Pullman, CS Lewis and Tolkien and I can see where they were coming from. Just from this, his debut novel, I can tell Ian Johnstone will sit high up on the fantasy author list at some point soon, I’m certain of it.
The Bell Between Worlds is the first in The Mirror Chronicles trilogy and was published by HarperCollins on June 6th. My copy was sent to me form the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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