Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop. Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours. They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter.
As I do so love to create these comparisons, I shall proudly state that I found Jaclyn Moriarty’s A Corner of White to be the book baby that would result from John Green and Neil Gaiman coming together to write a novel. And trust me, this is a compliment indeed!
Moriarty weaves a quite seamless tale of dual universes, dual protagonists and contrasting lifestyles in such an original and vibrant fashion that even when there were inevitable questions and moments of confusion, the sheer delight of this journey overshadowed everything else. It should also be noted that for the first instalment in a series, there was an overriding sense of satisfaction and containment within the novel, which is very rare for a series opener.
Effectively combining elements of contemporary realism with a splash of epic fantasy and magic, A Corner of White depicts the experiences and struggles of Madeline, who resides in The World (our world) and Elliott, a resident of The Kingdom of Cello (not our world!) Both are teenagers, however the wider cast of characters in both universes spans all ages and offers insight into a variety of human experiences and emotions. While the novel’s core focus on two teenage protagonists will no doubt see this classified as a young adult title, I do feel sincerely that it could effectively cross over into the adult age bracket.
The novel’s tone and sensibility was easily one of its most engaging and entertaining factors; there is a pervading and surprising sense of humour throughout, often quite tongue-cheek, which had me smiling and giggling continually. There are even slight ‘meta’ moments within the narrative, with Madeline’s character being in doubt of Elliot’s existence and often asking him if his ‘Kingdom’ includes such common fantasy tropes as “some kind of strong-willed princess with rebellion on her mind?” These were incredibly fun to recognise and enjoy!
Both the characters of Madeline and Elliott were incredibly sympathetic and relatable in their own, unique ways and both had worthwhile journeys to undertake; seeing their connection with one another was equally as interesting as seeing their individual lives unfold. Within all of the novel’s characters, there was always a strong sense of these people as human beings, incredibly flawed and genuine, and this was refreshing and admirable.
Finally, the fantastical aspects of the novel were wonderfully obscure and strange, and it was very deliberate and gradual reveal of the ‘laws’ of this universe that made Moriarty’s creation so memorable. The Kingdom, with its violent colours and its changing seasons, is both a place that repelled and intrigued me.
Just as Madeline and Elliott came to feel about their relationship with one another, I am heartily glad and thankful to have encountered A Corner of White, and I very much look forward to the continuation of the series.
A Corner of White – Jaclyn Moriarty (The Colours of Madeline, Book One)
ISBN – 13 – 9781742611396
September 18, 2012