Published by Penguin on June 12, 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Historical, Pirates, Young Adult
She has only seen the world through maps. She had no idea they were so dangerous.
Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods. Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself.
Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him. Together with Theo, a refugee from the West, she travels over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounters pirates and traders, and relies on a combination of Shadrack’s maps, common sense, and her own slantwise powers of observation. But even as Sophia and Theo try to save Shadrack’s life, they are in danger of losing their own.
This book is being compared to Philip Pullman’s THE GOLDEN COMPASS…wow. What big shoes to fill. Many fantasies like this are merely pale imitations of that series or of Tolkien’s world but THE GLASS SENTENCE isn’t. With intricate and unusual worldbuilding, this story pulls the readers into a broken world made of different time periods. Explorers and mapmakers are among the most important people in the world, as they risk everything to bring back information about the shattered lands.
Sophia lives with her uncle Shadrack, the preeminent mapmaker of his time. But when he’s kidnapped by nefarious people from beyond the boundaries of their time period, Sophia must travel to the Baldlands to find the only family she has left. For only 13 years old, Sophia’s really got it together. She doesn’t panic (too much) when her uncle is kidnapped. She just gathers what she needs and heads out. It’s quite helpful that Theo, an odd boy from the Baldlands, is there to help guide her and to bounce ideas off of. But then, she accepts him pretty easily, too. Maybe it’s because she’s the daughter of explorers or because she’s a girl without an inner compass (something everyone but Sophia seems to have in this broken world) that she’s so adaptable and mature in many of her actions and decisions.
While the beginning is a tad slow, we get to meet Sophia and Shadrack and explore their world. This sets us up for the journey that the pair of baby teens take through their era and into the next. Along the way, they’re attacked by creepy, scarred dudes, jump off trains, and are rescued by a lady pirate and her brother. I love the use of maps and mapmaking throughout the entire story, how they’re key elements in finding her uncle and traversing the land safely. Already mature beyond her years, Sophia shows herself to be a sensible and intelligent person who is worth following on her adventures. This particular adventure ends with no cliffhanger–the plotline for this story is wrapped up nicely with a teaser for the next book in this series (but no cliffie. Woo-hoo.).
THE GLASS SENTENCE is a sparkling addition to any fantasy collection.
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