During an air-raid, three siblings are transported to another world, one with talking deer and an empire intent on destroying the natural world. There they live and help the people of the Woodlands for years. When they return to the real world, their lives will never be the same again.

I may be young, but I’ve lived for years in a world where the language of force is the one used most readily. I don’t like the shape of its words. I don’t like the way it tastes on my tongue.

I love the idea of books that explore what happens to children who have spent years in a portal world only to return to their child bodies in the real world. The Light Between Worlds explores the associated depression and guilt, and perhaps a touch of PTSD.

The official blurb centres gives away something that happens a good halfway through the book. The first half is told by Evelyn, the youngest child who felt like the Woodlands was home. She grew up there and was suddenly returned into her eleven year old body. It doesn’t talk about going through puberty twice, but that can’t have been enjoyable. She struggles to find her place in the real world, feels abandoned and betrayed by her sister and suffers from depression as a consequence.

I don’t know how to live in this grey country – how to find the light and shadow when they all run together so.

The second half is from Philippa’s perspective, the older sister who promised to protect her family and always wanted to return. She had to make difficult choices and feels guilty about her sister. This second half was much stronger and made me feel quite emotional.

I didn’t care at all for the sections taking place in Woodlands. It was trying hard to be like Narnia and it felt unrealistic, like it could have been made up by a child wishing to escape the war.. Yet her brother and sister remember it too, so it’s not just in her head. It was a bit like having Narnia fan-fiction sandwiched in between a quite beautifully written story about not belonging. Having to read these sections distracted me from Evelyn’s story, hence why I preferred the other half.

I am thawing in this overheated, crowded kitchen. I can feel my winter melting into spring.

For more of this kind of thing, make sure you check out Seanan McGuire‘s Wayward Children novellas.

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Book Source: Purchased