A Crack in the Line
by Michael Lawrence
This first book in the Withern Rise Trilogy had me completely hooked after one paragraph. Let me quote:
At sixteen, Alaric and Naia were as alike as any two people of opposite sexes could be. They had the same dark eyes and hair, same long straight nose, wide moutheven the same slightly crooked front tooth. But it wasnt looks alone. Far from it. They shared a history, a lineage, memories, and had lived all their lives in the same house, Withern Rise, where they had occupied the same room, done the same things, more often than not had the same thoughts at the very same instant. And yet...
They had never met.
Whoa. Thats a strong opener as ever there was. Dont you just want to find out what in the world that could mean? I did. And I enjoyed finding out too.
Alaric and Naia Underwood could be twins, but they arent. They live their lives in different versions of the same reality. A quirk of chance determined that one would be a boy, the other a girl. A similar quirk of fifty-fifty chance meant that Naias mother survived a terrible accident two years ago...but Alarics did not. From that point onward, their life stories diverged. Now Alaric and his father live in sullen silence in a dilapidated, neglected house called Withern Rise, while at the same time in an alternate history, Naia lives with both parents in a bright, happy, newly redecorated Withern Rise.
Their strangely alike-yet-different stories begin to criss-cross when Alaric accidently discovers a way into Naias world. Naia, similarly, finds her way into Alarics version of Withern Rise. He envies her; she pities him. But neither of them are prepared for the change in store for both of them as the pathway between their worlds becomes increasingly, and dangerously, unstable.
In fact, Alaric witnesses more than just Naias alternate version of life at Withern Rise. He has encounters with two or three, or possibly four, additional alternatives, some of them quite alarming. And even more spooky is the presence of an old-yet-young stranger who seems to have traveled through the mysterious pathways whose origins are part of the mystery of the founding of Withern Rise.
While I enjoyed this book, its ending left me with feeling as if the story wasnt finished. One might put such a feeling down to the fact that the book is the start of a trilogy, but Im not sure thats the right answer. Perhaps it was more of a feeling that the story was headed in one direction, until it suddenly swerved in another direction and came to a too-abrupt end. Nevertheless I enjoyed this weird, stay-at-home yet cosmic adventure while it lasted, so I plan to read at least the next book in the trilogy: Small Eternities.
Recommended Age: 14+
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