In real-world London, Madeleine and her mother are runaways. Together they escaped from a previous life in which they were rich and lived all over the world. At first Madeleine thought their leaving was a lark. The truth is something she may never be ready to accept.
Elliot, resident of the land of Cello, prepares for his next trip away. He’s been searching for his father, who went missing the night his uncle died. Rumors say a purple murdered his uncle and dragged his father and a local woman to its cave as prisoners. If Elliot can catch the right spell, he can find them and bring them home.
When a letter from Cello asking for help turns up in a parking meter in London, Madeleine answers it, believing it’s probably a prank of some kind. As she corresponds with Elliot, who receives her letters in Cello, she begins to wonder if what he says could be real. Could there really be another world, one connected only by a crack the size of a folded note?
As problems swell around both Madeleine and Elliot, they look to each other for confidence as they struggle to sort things out. Madeleine takes refuge in knowledge. Elliot must guard the “Butterfly Child,” a tiny girl who may be able to save his town from ruin.
Madeleine and Elliot’s journeys are wildly imaginative and fun. From the color attacks that plague the people of cello to the vivid characters of Madeleine’s friends and teachers, the story stays interesting as the conflict grows.
As Elliot explains where he lives and what it’s like, Madeleine responds with criticism for the lack of creativity in the names of the locations and the strangeness of his world. It’s kind of funny because it’s the sort of criticism a reader might give a writer, but within the story, Cello is a real place. I enjoyed that bit of paradox.
I thought I knew where the story was headed, and in part I was right. There were some elements that emerged, though, that I really didn’t see coming. They made for a great set-up leading into the sequel to the story, The Cracks in the Kingdom, which came out in March of 2014.
Moderate profanity used very infrequently.
Brief kissing. Vague references to Elliot’s romantic history as a heartbreaker.
One of Madeleine’s friends believes in astrological signs and the other believes in reading auras. Both have some minor significance in the plot. In Cello, spells can be captured from a magical lake.
In Elliot’s world, waves of color attack people with varied levels of intensity. His uncle died from an attack by a purple the night his father disappeared. Elliot was the one who found his body (described briefly.)