Tuesday, December 6, 2011
The Land Beyond the Portal
Summary: It's a dark, snowy night when Laura awakens at the bottom of a staircase with a horrible headache and no idea how she got there. To make matters worse, she is alone in the house, snowed in by a blizzard, with no way to call for help. While exploring the house in a desperate attempt to trigger the return of her memory, she discovers a small room beneath the basement. She steps inside, and an unknown force instantly transports her to a mysterious, pastoral land.
She finds a quaint village that at first glance seems like a peaceful place; but Laura soon learns that peace is merely an illusion. Why are terrible rumors circulating about the village's leader? Why do the villagers worship a sinister deity who bears no resemblance to her own powerful and loving God? Most importantly, will she ever remember who she is and find her way home? In her quest for answers, she uncovers a myriad of forbidden secrets that might keep her trapped in The Land Beyond the Portal.
My Take: There were some very inventive and creative twists to this plot as well as some very obvious nods to iconic literary legends like Narnia. Most of the time the action kept the plot moving at a good pace.
There were some inconsistencies that nagged at me - some more than others. One was that despite her coming through a portal (and their knowledge that others had as well) it was evidently never considered that the royal family's son may have accidentally fallen into one - instead of all the foul ends they dream up as rumors.
The faith aspect was somewhat confusing as well. Litchfield is set up as a false god and she is warned that the people are brainwashed into this all encompassing faith of him -- but little is mentioned about it. Most of the people don't mention him at all unless she asks. Her own faith is supposed to be strong but there isn't any mention of it in the beginning - very little in the middle - and suddenly she is wanting to evangelize everyone at the end.
Her memory loss was unusual. She found a name and thought it sounded like her - or didn't - and adopted it. She couldn't remember her past or what happened, but remembered musical pieces and things like that. She remembered geographical features as well ... I'm no expert - and it was never explained how or why that could happen so it just felt off.
Without giving anything away, the author's premise of how Laura ended up where she did (as well as the rest of the people) was creative and interesting. The book is fairly short -- maybe it would have been even better had there been more time spent developing her ideas and characters.
The publisher provided me a copy in exchange for my honest review.