The Light Between Worlds
Written by Laura Weymouth
Published by Chicken House Books
Publication date: 1st November 2018
Summary (from Goodreads):
Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge.
When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves.
Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes.
Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.
But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.
I sit and look and breathe. For the first time today, I’m myself – Evelyn Hapwell, a girl caught between two worlds. But the moon looked the same in the Great Wood as it does in England, and so did the sheep and the tree-cloaked hills. The sight of the silent, dreaming countryside knits the crack inside me back together.
The far, white moon is the curve of a smile and for all my loneliness, I can’t help but smile back.
I suck in a breath of that agonizingly familiar smell, holding it to me the way I hold the discomfort in my hands. Memory is a sharp-edged knife I can’t help but cut myself on, no matter how carefully I wield it.
First impressions: As soon as I heard the summary for this I was sold – not many books deal with the aftermath of coming back from a magical world, but imagine the reverse culture shock, particularly as you will have grown up and changed whilst there. This is the book I’ve needed for years without even realising it, looking at the aftermath of travelling to a magical world and how difficult it can be to readjust to our own world.
This book follows two children who, while sheltering from a bomb, somehow end up in another world. After years there, they are returned back to their own world, at exactly the moment they left, despite having grown up in the other world. each of the siblings handles it in a slightly different way, with Phillipa and Jamie getting on with living in the ‘real’ world and Evelyn becoming obsessed with finding a way back to the world where she felt she truly belonged.
If you ever had questions after reading the Narnia books, this is for you.
From the first line I felt that this book is absolutely compelling! I really connected with Evelyn’s character and her struggle to fit back into this world, when the other world has become her reality. Her moods and struggles for mental health were really sympathetically and realistically described and I loved how the relationship between her and her older sister was drawn. In the first half of the book we mostly follow Evelyn, then we’re given Phillipa’s side of the story. I loved how this dual narrative brings out facets of the other’s story, illuminating things left unsaid or skimmed over.
This was the book that I didn’t know I needed and now can’t believe I survive as long as I did without it. One of my top reads this year and already assured of a firm place on my favourites shelf – to be read and read again with pleasure!
I am a true woodlands heart and, with this book, I have found my way home.
I sit by the rushing water, a patchwork girl, pieced together from bits of pain, all of them a different shape, a different colour, a different sort of unhappiness.
And the paper stays blank before me, because I don’t know what to write. I don’t know how to take back the things I’ve said and done, or to bridge the spaces that lie between us.
What I liked: Everything! Absolutely everything! I particularly liked all the references to art and poetry throughout, both of the love interests (they are both so gentle, patient and loving!), the dual narrative from Phillipa and Evie, the sibling relationship, the anti-war message and how it addressed so many questions I had at the end of the Narnia series. The fact that their parents are present and care, even though they know, somehow, that there’s a gap between them and their children that they cannot bridge. This, alongside the warmth of Tom’s family was relatable and lovely. I also loved the lyrical language and the descriptions of Evelyn’s emotional state.
Even better if: It was perfection! Although, in hindsight, perhaps Jamie got a bit short-changed by not having his perspective explored as much.
How you could use it in your classroom: This would be a fantastic follow-up to the Narnia Chronicles, for older readers, looking at the struggles Evie, Phillipa and Jamie face in adapting back to their own world. Looking at the post-war period and war and peace would also be interesting. The text can be read on several levels so could be used to look at mental illness and wellness, as well as the complexity of the human mind and how it reacts under stress. (Trigger warnings for self-harm, disordered eating and attempted suicide)
(Thanks to Chicken House Books for my review copy and my local Waterstones for my finished copy!)
Convinced to read it yet?
If not, why not check out what some other bloggers though about The Light Between Worlds?
‘A story which is worth reading on its own merits, but doubly-interesting for the commentary it makes on a famous trope. This book is sure to provoke discussion and make us think deeper about how fantasy-experiences would really affect our characters.’
‘All in all, The Light Between Worlds is a stunningly beautiful character-focused story about finding light amidst the grey. And I know, down to my bones, that it’s one I’ll treasure for a long, long time.’
Thanks for reading!