Published by Aladdin on March 11, 2014
On Halloween below a haunted house, Cole Randolph wanted to have fun (and maybe get to know Jenna Hunt a little better). But he dives after friends whisked away to The Outskirts.
The five kingdoms lie in between - wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. Some people are born there. Some find their way there from other worlds.
And once people are in the Outskirts, they find it very hard to leave.
With the magic of the Outskirts starting to unravel, Cole and an unusual girl named Mira must rescue his friends, set things right in the Outskirts, and hopefully find his way back home…before his existence is forgotten.
Halloween is supposed to be all fun and games, until Cole and his friends end up in a creepy basement and are taken through a portal and made into slaves in the Outskirts. He has followed them through when he could have left them but ends up captured as well and sold to the Sky Raiders, who loot floating castles that only appear for hour to days at best and often can be very dangerous. Cole meets Mira, who has a small amount of shaping powers, which his friends were taken to the castle for. On a dangerous mission, he finds out that he must be Mira’s new protector as her old one has died but still does not know why – a secret later revealed. The High King suddenly shows an interest and shows up with 400 Legionaires. Although the Sky Raiders cannot help them, they do their best to stall so they can escape. Of course this leads Cole, Mira and two of the slaves – Jace and Twitch on another more dangerous mission to take down an entity that may just kill them.
Cole is a character who comes into his own. He realizes that he has to step up and try to survive and save his friends. He’s smart and doesn’t act rashly but assesses situations when he can. Mira is a bit of a love interest (as much as an 11 year old can be) and Cole has a bit of competition with Jace, who seems to like her. I like the plot so far and am interested to see these other kingdoms, which seem to have some fantastical elements. My favorite part was when they discovered Brady’s Wilderness, with all sorts of crazy little kid stuff turned dangerous – giant plastic dinosaurs, skeletons, lakes of milk and cookies, etc.
A strong first book, with some interesting character, a very interesting world and a complex villainy going on. I’ll be interested to see where the next book takes us.