Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Review: The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Book: The Light Between Worlds
Author: Laura E. Weymouth
Series: Standaloe

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge. 

When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves. 

Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes. 

Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was. 

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

Ever wonder what could have happened in the original Chronicles of Narina, if the children were never called back? Well, this book was certainly an interesting spin off it. In a way, this book gave life to those small "what ifs?" us fantasy lovers have always wondered about or asked: what happens if we enter a fantasy world, only to return back to this boring and mundane one? Would we be able to cope?

Realistic answer? Probably not. Capitalism kind of pales in comparison to living amongst myths and legends of old. Which is exactly what we get to live through in this book. To my surprise (and slight disappointment), a lot of the main themes of this book was centred around mental coping, not magic or anything.

Evelyn takes up the first half of the book: the girl who was whisked away to another world, who lived there and had a purpose, and who was torn away all too soon. A ghost of a girl now living in back in the normal world. She's contrasted by her sister, Phillipa, who, like Ev, was whisked away, but unlike Ev, never felt the same sense of belonging as Ev did. Instead, Phillipa was wracked with guilt for failing in her responsibility to look after Ev after returning to this world, and flees across an ocean for school. Essentially, Evelyn is Lucy, and Philippa is Susan from the original Chronicles of Narnia, but with a more complete and singular character act.

Since I didn't know how the book was going to end, I both sympathized with Evelyn yet felt wary of her, not sure whether her depression from being away from the Woodlands was a good thing that would lead her back or if she was just descending into madness.

As I mentioned before, this book to me felt a little bit more speaking to the whole mentalism of the experience and trying to live with various forms of mental illnesses. Depression and guilt are the two main drivers of each girl, and though it made for a very interesting story based off a common daydream, it made for a slightly lacklustre story than I was expecting. There wasn't really any magical aspects to it, no heroic acts that led to eternal glory, none of the fantasy world building I had been hoping for in order to contrast it to the human world.

This book is definitely an interesting read, if not for its fantasy aspects, but for learning about the different coping mechanisms that can be applied to different situations. It's a slightly grimmer tale of the "what ifs?" of Narnia, but in a way, more realistic to some degree.

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