This fantasy is the first part of a trilogy. Set in a parallel world, it focuses on the interconnecting fates of three groups of young people, two fantastic and one real. There are a lot of different characters to get to know at the beginning, so it is a little hard to get into at first, but once the connections between the various groups are established, the story comes together well.
Unlike many recent fantasy writers who have turned to Europe to find inspiration for their fantasy worlds, Lassiter has chosen a more daring option. Her protagonists step out of the familiar British countryside into hot desert terrain, vividly coloured markets and whitewashed palaces. The book’s four teenage protagonists are also quite unconventional. They are not a close-knit group of friends, but rather fiercely independent characters, each of whom has their own reason for travelling to the parallel world. As their adventures progress and the protagonists discover more about each other’s personalities and motives, the group dynamics change.
The only aspect of the story that disappointed me is Lassiter’s use of the magic door motif. While the concept of the door between worlds was used effectively by Pullman in the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, in Lassiter’s novel it never really convinces but remains a blatantly obvious narrative device.