Book review: The City on the Other Side, by Mairghread Scott, illustrated by Robin Robinson

Scott, Mairghread. The City on the Other Side. Illus. by Robin Robinson. First Second, 2018. $16.99. 211p. ISBN 978-1-62672-457-0. Ages 8-12. P8Q8

Isabel, a lonely daughter in an affluent family, has been kept safe inside her mother’s San Francisco mansion, but a summer in Carmel with her sculptor father, who she had never met, opens up her world. Accidentally crossing the veil into the fairy world, she becomes keeper of a magic necklace and assigned the responsibility of returning it to the owner, the missing Seelie princess. Escaping the Unseelie warriors changes her from the obsessively clean, well-behaved little girl into a young woman with her own voice and ability to make decisions. The setting after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is referenced but has little focus. The many characters, both human and fairy, comprise the majority of the story as Button the mushroom and Benjie the Filipino orphan help her on her odyssey.

Verdict: The cause of the conflict between the two sides, Seelie and Unseelie, is never fleshed out, and the large number of multi-faceted characters can become confusing. Yet the graphic novel moves at a rapid pace, and book benefits from the detailed colorful panels, that move from dark backgrounds to vivid colors. It’s also refreshing that the book doesn’t need a sequel.

April/May 2018 review by Nel Ward.

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