reviewed by Cy Wyss
Hope is a thirteen year old girl who disappears from the tiny town of Cutter’s Notch, Indiana. Nightmare scenarios run through the minds of all who know her. The story is laced through with paranormal activity, from dark spectres to elves and flying reindeer. I feel the heroes are perfect as middle grade youths, because kids at that age are still open to magic. Any older, and their acceptance of the unlikely phenomena threading through their adventure would rank over the top for implausibility. In some ways, the bleak setting of Cutter’s Notch was incommensurate with the overall positive vibe of the book, however the main characters’ strength more than made up for the discord.
I found myself constantly wondering what the author would throw at his characters next, which is to say I was gripped by their plights. The eponymous character, Hope, (gratuitous title pun notwithstanding) is a very likable and capable young woman, not the wimpy victim of older fables who waits to be rescued by her hero. Hope’s supporting cast is dynamic and believable, each contributing his or her own power to the situation. The elves seem like something of a cross between Keebler and Tolkien, an unusual mix of pettiness and spirituality. I enjoyed the book and found it an easy read, with a minimum of inconsistency or errors. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys a light middle grade thriller or a fun spiritual twist.