Clare Wilkins, Librarian, King’s House School
This new book by Michelle Harrison is an ode to the magical power of stories and those who believe in them. The complex, intriguing Alice has always been a storyteller but a familial curse means that she must never leave her stories unfinished. As one particularly challenging tale unfolds, Alice finds herself unable to finish her characters’ stories, with alarming and potentially fatal consequences. As the characters step out of her book and into what becomes Alice’s disturbing reality, Alice suddenly vanishes. Up steps her devoted younger brother Midge with only a copy of Alice’s unfinished book The Museum of Unfinished Stories and duplicitous cat as a clue to her whereabouts.
Aided by the ‘other Alice’ of the title, Gypsy and the Dodger-like Piper, Midge begins to understand the terrible fate that awaits Alice unless they can unravel a series of perplexing riddles in time.
With a feast of undesirables appearing from Alice’s book and a narrative laced with magic and mysterious goings-on, this is an enthralling and at times sinister read. Harrison weaves a reliably intricate tale about the capricious nature of magic, and the atmospheric backdrop of the ‘Summoning’ festival conjures up a suitably creepy stage for the action to take place in. The characters are strong and engaging – Midge and Gypsy work particularly well and there are lots of sparky interactions between the rest of the cast. Although it may be a little convoluted and implausible for some, I think this is a well-paced, entertaining read. Fans of Harrison’s previous books will not be disappointed.