Oct 6, 2016

Review: The Doorway and the Deep by K.E. Ormsbee

TitleThe Doorway and the Deep
Author: K.E. Ormsbee
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publishing Date: October 4, 2016
Pages/Format: 480, ARC
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Even after escaping from the Southerly Kingdom, Lottie Fiske and her best friend Eliot have returned to the magical Albion Isle, despite the fact that she is a wanted criminal there, because she is seeking answers about her abilities, and her parents--but war is threatening Limn, and the answers she needs seem to lie in the Northerly Kingdom, along a road full of dangers.

Book in One Word: CHARACTERS

After reading and loving The Water and the Wild last year, I was eager to get my hands on the sequel. The Water and the Wild featured a Wonderlandish, Neverlandesque fantasmical world and had a quirky, fun cast of characters I utterly adore, plus some very promising prose. When an ARC fell into my hands (possibly from a magical, portal-like apple tree), I was excited to return to Limn and explore the territory of the Northerlies (my favorite, thanks to a certain character). So I fell into The Doorway and the Deep and perilous situations, dangerous adventures, and twist and turns.

My one "problem" with The Doorway and the Deep isn't even a problem, but I think I actually could've used an info dump of sorts for once. (Or I've never really realized before that an info dump of sorts was helpful.) I just had a hard time remembering what all happened in The Water and the Wild--who some of the characters were, how the book ended, how we got to where this book begins, and so on. And I was unfortunately unable to access either of my copies of The Water and the Wild (for the majority of my books are currently in storage, a horrible thing, I know) to get a little refresher, so I was a bit stuck. But the big kicker was DORIAN INGLE. How in the hell did I forget a character like Dorian Ingle? I cannot for the life of me remember who he is/was in The Water and the Wild, and that utterly baffles me, because HOW. How how how? In The Doorway and the Deep he became one of my favorite characters (didn't hurt that his nose piercing is like three rings okay) but I just don't understand how I could've forgotten he existed. THE HELL. So an info dump or a character guide--like, hey, these are/will be your favorite characters, better hope nothing bad happens to them!--would've been just a teensy bit helpful.

The Doorway and the Deep--and The Water and the Wild, for that matter--has three things going for it: characters, world building/story, and prose. Sometimes a book has one or two of those and does them well and it works, but this series has all three. If I don't care about the characters (or, at the least, if I'm not low key obsessed with at least one of the characters) then I'm going to struggle with caring about the book as a whole. Fortunately for The Doorway and the Deep, I'm extremely obsessed with one character, and all the (non-evil) characters themselves are good too. The story centers around Lottie Fiske, a Junie/Ramona/Eloise type of girl who went to Limn looking for a cure for her best friend Eliot and ended up finding (and learning) much, much more. Now (some spoilers for book one ahead) she's trying to conjure up her healing powers and keep Eliot alive, learn about her past, and stay away from that nasty Southerly King and any other enemies she may have. Lottie--the Heir of Fiske, by the way--is a character who wears confidence like a shield, but underneath she's plagued by worries and doubts and the fear that she's not good enough. But she's a fierce, adventurous girl who's willing to fight for people who aren't exactly hers, will protect and care for her friends, and who's not willing to go down without a fight. Of course, it helps that she's not alone.

Lottie traverses Limn and the courts and their people (and a variety of creatures) with the help of Adelaide, Oliver, Eliot, Fife, and, occasionally, the wolf-like creature the Barghest. If you were to put them at a table to paint, Lottie would have paint everywhere and be mixing colors while Adelaide's side of the table would be clean and orderly, and she herself would be paint free. Adelaide is Miss Prim and Proper, and she's the voice of reason and glue that helps keep the group together and moving forward. Her brother Oliver is quite possibly one of the coolest people ever, because though it seriously sucks that he can't touch people without hurting them, his eyes are basically mood rings and he sometimes speaks in poetry. Sweet, sensitive Oliver. Then there's Eliot, the only full-blooded human of the group--and Lottie's weakness, because she believes she's the only one who can save Eliot from his fatal sickness, and she'll do anything to keep him alive. So, you know, sometimes Eliot gets in the way. Lastly is Fife. FIFE DULCET, the spritely boy who absolutely must be descended from the one and only Peter Pan (he can, after all, basically fly). I'm only slightly obsessed with him, o k a y ? He's just my favorite and the best. He, like Lottie, can be snarky and throw a bit of a fit if he doesn't get his way, but he's the much needed comic relief, the one who won't take things too seriously (or seriously at all, to be honest). And he's my favorite and if anyone hurts him I'll hurt them back.

As I had previously mentioned, The Doorway and the Deep succeeds in the world building and prose departments. Limn is a world that's magical and mystical like Neverland and Wonderland, a place filled with its own rules and ways and patterns and creatures. (Aaand why don't these books come with a lovely map?) The prose helps build that world and pushes the story along. The prose fits with the mood and tone of the story: it's light and whimsical and lovely. It's a voice-centric kind of writing (and if you know me then you know I love voice), and it's also the kind that caters well to the story and works.

In the end, The Doorway and the Deep was a well-paced sequel that upped the stakes and put Lottie & Co. all over the map as they went on a very important quest. This could be a possible spoiler, but K.E. Ormsbee promised there'd be kissing in this book and she. did. not. disappoint. (Who am I kidding? I was grinning like a fool.) The prose brought it, the world and story pushed it, and the characters carried it all to the end as we went deep, deep into the doorway(s) of Limn. Whether or not you're a Middle Grade reader is beyond and beside the point: you can be any age and enjoy these books, I pinky promise you. And me? I just need the next book already, because that cliffhanger was a freaking cliffhanger and WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? I'll just sit here waiting and drawing the mark of the Northerlies on my wrist until I get it. Oh, and of course: #FifeandtheNortherliesFTMFW.

Did I like it? Yes!
Did I love it? Not quite.
Would I reread it? I wouldn't say no!
Would I purchase it? Yesss.
Who would I recommend it to? If you like your stories whimsical and adventurous with hints of dangers, lovely prose, fun worlds, and a cast of unique characters worth caring about, then these books are probably right up your alley.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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