The Other Alice is a new book by Michelle Harrison, asking the question “What would happen if the characters from the stories you’ve written managed to escape into the real world?”
It is aimed for readers ages 9+, so naturally I gave the book to Gem (grown up, asked me not to write her age) to read. (She also didn’t want me to take a picture of her with the book because she hasn’t done her hair).
Alice, the writer sister of Midge, a young boy, goes missing mysteriously. Investigating her disappearance by researching her writing notes and with the help (and occasional hiderance) of some of the characters from the books, magically alive in the real world, he enters a world of mystery and magic.
Experiencing a strange ceremony called The Summoning, Midge manages to communicate with his sister, but with only one question to ask her, Midge must use his smarts to get the right clues in order to find her and rescue both her and his cat, captured in place of a talking cat that has escaped from Alice’s stories.
With an Inception-level of stories-within-stories, Gem said this is probably a bit too confusing for younger readers, and some of the situations do come across as fairly violent. So, you should probably look at this as aimed more for the 12+ market rather than 9+.
Michelle Harrison’s writing is complex and layered and the book itself is unforgivingly deep. You’re going to need to get into reading this book without putting it down, rather than dipping in and out occasionally or you’re going to end up confused enough to hand off reviewing the book to your missus in exchange for peanut butter Oreos and unlimited coffee.
That said, Gem says she enjoyed the book, and will be encouraging Jess (11) to read it at some point, although I don’t think the characters play Minecraft at any point, so I doubt it will be her sort of thing.
Oh, and I got a little paper cut out cat sent with the book. So that’s nice. Gonna put that in the mancave.