I wasn’t sure what to make of this at first – the twins are young and read like it, and the young unicorn named Jeremy obsessed with the mundane world was a bit weird, and the kids’ dad had rainbow hair. I thought it was going to be too young for me and the rare Sarah Beth Durst book that didn’t really grab me. And then it grabbed me.
Yes, the characters are young – and aimed at young readers – but their adventure gets more complex as they go and acquire real consequences, and they learn some valuable lessons. I thoroughly enjoyed this once it got going, and even the details I at first found ridiculous ended up fitting and feeling right by the end.
My one quibble is that the plot twists are very predictable — I saw each one coming from a mile away. Now, young readers might not, having not read as many books, but I feel like it could have been a bit more subtle.
Overall very enjoyable and I think kids will love it. Even getting stuck transformed into a skunk (complete with requisite skunk stink humor), Jeremy’s obsession with soda and farmcats card game, the details and displacement of the magical world, the flying surfboards… It’s a lot of fun. I’ll definitely be reading it to my 7 year old soon.
It also deftly handles such issues as the problem with hurting people while thinking you’re doing what’s best for them (without consulting them) and what it’s like to be a refugee when your home is destroyed by a natural (or not-so-natural) disaster. And that you don’t have to wait until you’re grown up to be a hero and save the day (and sometimes even the grownups don’t know what to do, and sometimes they lie because they think it’s best for you).
*Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for providing an e-arc to review.