This is the debut book from the Irish writer Eve McDonnell. ELSETIME was published in September 2020 by the fantastic independent publisher Everything With Words. It has been inspired by a real-life tragic event: The Great Flood of London in 1928. It's a brilliantly breathtaking story full of unique charm and fantastic characters. Each feels different on paper as they float through the fantasy brain leaving an ever-lasting memory of a dream-like quality.
One of the main characters in the book is a young twelve-year-old orphan girl called Glory. She works in the fantastically named The Frippery and Fandangle Emporium creating jewellery in 1928. Glory is a character that will stay with you as she is not your normal archetype and is written brilliantly. The other character, Needle - a mudlark boy from 1864 - has an amazing talent as he can read the history and the story of an object just by holding it in the palm of his hand. However, when his father disappears, a journey begins that will have you soaring from great heights in a tale combining historical events. Both character's lives intertwine on this special journey involving time travel in a mission to save fourteen lives.
The story has a wonderful classic feeling that will have you gripped throughout each page as you follow a real action-packed adventure. This is partly due to the small illustrated images that have been produced by HOLLY OVEDEN; just like the book cover they are captivating and attract the reader's attention. I really loved the different poses of the crow on the inside of the cover. The story also encapsulates the wicked element of another major character (Mrs Quick) that keeps you transfixed providing an edgy and nasty side. It is definitely thought-provoking and instills an empathic feeling into the story.
Can the children and their pet crow (Magpie) who influences their paths change the future and save the folk of Inthington? Well, you will have to pick up a copy and find out. I would heartily recommend reading this book as it's very imaginative with a quirky plotline and excellent description full of historical references. It's compelling, full of magical realism and has heartfelt characters that stand up to bullying. The setting feels like a fairytale but with an explosive ending that will leave you fully satisfied. So strap yourself in for the most brilliant (non-mainstream) adventure you are likely to have this year.