Eleven-year-old Matilda Pages, Tilly, has lived with her grandparents above their bookshop, “Pages & Co”, ever since her mother disappeared soon after she was born. The bookshop is a dream home for a book loving child and Tilly relishes escaping into the enticing worlds of her favourite stories. When Tilly starts meeting characters from her favourite children’s books between the shop’s shelves, she begins to realise that there is more to “Pages & Co”, and to her grandparents, than meets the eye. Once Tilly has discovered the magic of “bookwandering”, crossing from real life into story book worlds, and travelling back again, she and her friend Oskar, with the help of Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland, step into fictional worlds to try and solve the mystery of Tilly’s mother’s disappearance. The children are pursued by the mysterious and sinister Enoch Chalk, who is convinced that Tilly and her family have broken the strict rules of bookwandering.
This magical adventure story will appeal to those book loving children who understand the pull of fictional worlds and appreciate how exciting it would be to meet a favourite book character. The concept of bookwandering is imaginative, the voices of the fictional characters sound authentic and the settings are well drawn, from the cosy, comforting bookshop to the intriguing “Underlibrary” where bookwandering records are stored. However, the story does rely on considerable knowledge of classic children’s books and the pace and plot do get somewhat bogged down in explaining the very complicated rules of bookwandering. There is rather too much exposition in this first volume of what is obviously intended to be a series, but those readers who enjoy all the fictional references will look forward to future bookwandering adventures.