Beneath the Swirling Sky
Published September 12, 2023
About Beneath the Swirling Sky
A house full of paintings, a missing sister, and a family secret send a boy and his cousin into a world where art is the key in this fantasy adventure perfect for fans of The Wingfeather Saga and Pages & Co.
After an experience he’d rather forget, Vincent is determined to be done with art. So when he and his little sister, Lili, spend spring break with their art conservator great-uncle, Vincent’s plan is to stay glued to his phone.
That is, until Lili disappears into one of the world’s most famous paintings and Vincent learns his parents have been hiding something from Their family is the last of The Restorationists, a secret society with the power to travel through paintings—and a duty to protect them from evil forces.
With Lili’s safety on the line, leaving art behind is no longer an option. Vincent must team up with his know-it-all second cousin Georgia, wrestle with why his parents lied to him, and confront both his past and a future he never wanted. Young readers are invited into a captivating universe where paintings become a portal—and adventure and danger lurk beyond every canvas.
This was a really fun story! I loved the descriptions of the different paintings and the way the characters could travel in and through them. Vincent struggles with self-doubt as an artist, so at first, he resists interacting with the paintings at his uncle’s house. But as he continues to feel a pull toward the art, he gradually recognizes that as part of his unique gifts.
I liked the relationship between Georgia and Vincent, too. She was bold and open, and they made a great team together.
The author’s note at the end of the book makes it pretty clear the author did a LOT of research for this story. I loved the attention to detail that she put into this. The paintings that appear in a private home are all privately owned. Those that appear at museums are museum-owned, though she says museums do trade their paintings around sometimes. I wouldn’t have stopped to really think about it, but I liked knowing that the author did consider where the real originals of those paintings actually are and made it part of the story.
All in all, I liked this one a lot. It sounds like a series opener, so I hope there are future stories about Vincent and his family to come.
Content Notes for Beneath the Swirling Sky
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Vincent’s sister, Lili, is Chinese American and adopted by his family. Vincent’s cousin Georgia is biracial: Mexican-American and white.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Vincent walks through a painting that features nude people. He feels uncomfortable and doesn’t look at them. His cousin tells him that there can be a lot of nudity in art and that he doesn’t have to look if he feels uncomfortable. An author’s note affirms this and encourages readers to ask adults for help before searching for art online.
Several paintings that Vincent and his cousin encounter are from bible stories. In one, they canoe on the Sea of Galilee while Jesus and his disciples are in a boat during a storm. Vincent learns that art is inspired by God and that he gives gifts for people to use to help others. He hears the story of a lesser-known painter who became a missionary to Africa because she felt called to help people.
Situations of peril. Vincent and Georgia discover a group that appears to be kidnapping children. Vincent is forced to spar with another boy. At one point, a guard hits Vincent with a stun gun to subdue him.
Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of BENEATH THE SWIRLING SKY in exchange for my honest review.