This is a very timely reminder of how connected we are to the land and the climate that surrounds us. Amaya lives with her younger brother Kaleb and Grandma Uma in a land that is suffering from a horrendous drought. At the same time children are mysteriously disappearing and their families begin to suffer from the Sorrow Sickness and seem to forget all about them. The Switching Hour of the title is that twilight time when an ancient evil is meant to come out and take anyone who is not safely shut in their home and one day Amaya leaves her door open and her brother is taken. Her search to find her brother before the curse makes her forget him takes her in to many dangers, but she meets people who are also suffering and who need help.
This is a wonderful and exciting story that emphasises the importance of family and of friendship. It also reminds up about memory and how so much of our thinking about those around us is linked to the memories that accumulate; about events and activities that we have shared or heard about. In an age where people often feel more connected to celebrities that to their families it is important to keep alive the knowledge of our past and also to maintain the bonds that have held families together. There is also an important message about global warming and the dangers that so many areas face from the treat of drought, flooding and other environmental disasters. Amaya is a frustrating heroine to begin with, but we gradually build up an empathy with her and we watch her grow as an individual. It is a great read for those who like stories with magic, folk tales mixed with some more serious elements about the world we live in.