Monday, 2 September 2013

White Space (Dark Passages #1) by Ilsa J. Bick




Lizzie and the Mirror

arc received from EgmontUSA through Edelweiss

Trigger warnings for this book: cutting, suicide and gore.


There are so many amazing things about White Space, but what pulled me into it was the narration. When it starts it’s narrated by a little girl: with a little kid’s linguistic idiosyncrasies and… I really can’t explain why, but it makes everything a hundred times creepier.

So let’s start: there is a little girl, Lizzie, a mother who dabbled in some really dark stuff, and a father who is dabbling in some really dark stuff.
You see, when Lizzies father creates a story he doesn’t just come up with it, he reaches into a mirror and through scratches and gouges pulls out characters from the White Space and into his Now. And sometimes these characters don’t stay in the books. They come outside and hide in the house.
When the story starts one such character was doing just that:

“A footprint. On the wall. That’s when Mom feels someone watching, too.”

Lizzie’s mother creates her own characters out of blown glass, the Peculiars. Lizzie tried making one once but she set the temperature wrong and the glass melted into a monstrosity: the monster doll who is not very… nice.

“The inside of the monster-doll’s head is all gluey-ooky, the thoughts sticky as spiderwebs.”

This is all incredibly spooky; it’s like High Octane Coraline. There is also a cat, Marmalade, who indulges in a time-honoured cat tradition of being an asshole and doing this:

“Marmalade sometimes stares, not at birds or bright coins of sunlight but the space between, while his tail goes twitch-twitch. The cat sees something Lizzie doesn’t.”

From that we jump to Emma’s POV. Emma has a metal plate in her head and killer migraines which announce themselves with spidery cracks into reality and she gets to see Lizzie’s Now. She had also lived with a father-figure painter who pulled creatures from the White Space into his canvas.

The plot jumps from Lizzie to Emma and back again, then starts including a bunch of other POVs. Personally, I loved Lizzie’s side of the story, and felt that Emma’s side and all the other characters’, though compelling, dragged a bit. Lizzie’s story was so much creepier, perhaps because, as I said, she was a little kid and saw and described things in a peculiar way that just wormed itself in to the reader’s brain.

I’m not the type of reader who appreciates switching POV every chapter, it keeps me from getting attached to the story. Every time you really start getting into it, SWITCH!, you’re reading about someone else doing something else. All in all there were about 7  POVs, sometimes it cuts from one to another in the middle of a sentence. That’s cool for a movie script but for an actual book it’s just incredibly exasperating. I, personally, started to lose interest in several characters. I wished the book was only about Lizzie and her family (which would have been way more than enough!), and had to force myself not to skip ahead when the focus wasn’t on them.

But the plot is pretty good! And it brought up a bunch of questions regarding parallel universes, the nature of reality, and space, and time, and who we really are. And when most of the POV characters meet up on the mountain and realise the fog is hiding something… It’s worth reading!

I must admit, I was very frustrated throughout the book, as I said, the multiple POVs really do not work for me, but I was never, ever bored! And while being entertained was enough for me, it won’t be for everyone, you have to go for a really, really long time through lots of confusing questions and questions and questions to get some answers literally when you’ve gone through 88% of the book.

If anything this book may be too ambitious, it tried to do too much, too many characters, too many stories – to be fair, all of them intertwined, but there was too much going on.
But like I said: it was never boring. All in all, though, this would make a better movie than a book.


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