Tonally reminiscent of Madeleine L’Engle’s young reader classic A Wrinkle in Time, this enchanting, all-ages read follows two best friends as they spend an unforgettable summer vacation traveling through time.
Every summer, Belle and Toby’s families spend time in a mountain-style lodge in the middle of a vast wilderness. The two young teenagers love exploring the countryside, spending endless hours outside. But this summer is different: Belle has just learned that her grandmother is gravely ill and that, if her condition worsens, the family will be forced to sell the lodge. Knowing that this may very well be their last summer together, the two set our for an epic day of exploring, only to find a strange log cabin that they’ve never seen before.
They see smoke rising from the chimney and hear the sound of panpipes coming from inside. When a voice welcomes them in, they meet Mennoc, an old man who shares with them jaw-dropping tales of magic keys and time travel. A mishap with one of the keys lands all three of them back in time, where they become entangled in an unfolding rebellion between innocent villagers and a greed-obsessed chieftain who has become a puppet for a morally bankrupt wizard.
Although obviously concerned about finding a way back home, the compassionate teenagers decide to join forces with the villagers in an attempt to overthrow the wizard.
As mentioned earlier, the story’s tone is one of its strengths: The storyline is full of whimsy and wonder, and while there are sequences that contain violent behavior, the author stays away from gratuitous description and instead employs an understated approach. Although the conclusion is relatively predictable and the text contains more than a few grammatical errors, the narrative is nonetheless readable and engaging.
While not as thematically profound as A Wrinkle in Time, this magical time travel adventure is sure to please readers who enjoy L’Engle’s style.