Whew! My impression of this book was all over the place while I read! Let’s start with a synopsis, shall we?
This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).
Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot’s dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.
As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds — through an accidental gap that hasn’t appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called “color storms;” a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the “Butterfly Child,” whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses…
A Corner of White was an intriguing read from start to finish. While it did have a few flaws, I was able to look past them for the most part and ended up really enjoying this book!
The story is told through the eyes of the main characters, Madeleine Tully and Elliot Baranski. Madeleine lives in Cambridge, England with her mom. She is homeschooled together with two other kids her age, Belle and Jack. Elliot is a 15-year-old boy who lives in a town called Bonfire in the Kingdom of Cello. It’s been just him and his mom since his father disappeared over a year ago.
I personally preferred Elliot’s point of view over Madeleine’s. The biggest reason why I enjoyed reading Elliot’s storyline is because it took place in the Kingdom of Cello, which was new and interesting to me. I also enjoyed Elliot’s chapters more because there always seemed to be something happening in them. Madeleine’s chapters, on the other hand, detailed more day-to-day things, which was somewhat tedious. Her storyline does pick up about halfway through the book, though.
There are a lot characters in this book besides Madeleine and Elliot. In fact, we are introduced to practically the whole town of Bonfire! Thankfully, the author makes each character so well-rounded and developed that I never had a problem telling them apart.
Another thing that Moriarty does quite well is building the world of Cello. It has got to be one of the most unique settings I’ve ever come across. The Kingdom of Cello is split up into provinces, each of which has its own slang and style of clothing. There’s also a Lake of Spells in the Magical North where you can fish in the lake for magical spells. And I can’t forget to mention the weather! It seemed that each season came and went within days or weeks. One day it would be snowing, the next it would be hot and sunny for a few days. Moriarty went all out coming up with the Kingdom of Cello, and I would almost say that you should read it for Cello alone!
One thing I should mention is the pacing. This book was very slow in the first 100 or so pages. Nothing much happens to the characters in the beginning of this book. Instead, we learn about the main characters, the side characters, the kingdom of Cello, etc. It was mostly necessary information, but it slowed the book down quite a bit. Thankfully the Kingdom of Cello kept me reading, because after the first hundred pages, the plot in this book takes off!
Another thing I noticed about A Corner of White was how much filler was in it. For example, there is a scene depicting Jack and Belle drinking tea and talking at Auntie’s Tea Shop. There was no reason that I could find for that scene to be in there, except perhaps to flesh out the characters. But that scene took up five whole pages and made the plot drag, so I don’t think it was helpful to the story.
My star rating varied wildly throughout this book. In the end, I think I’m going to give it 3.5 stars because the ending redeemed it after the super slow beginning. I would recommend this book because if you can stick it out through the first hundred pages, it does a complete 180 and gets much better. Here’s hoping the next book in the trilogy is much faster now that Moriarty has gotten the characters rounded out!
- “Jack had gathered these names together by the stems; he’d arranged them in a vase that he kept to the right of his mind. At night, before he fell asleep, he’d breathe in the fragrance of each, the details that Madeleine had shared.” – Pg. 23
- “Now in Auntie’s Tea Shop, Jack fixed a critical gaze on the little shelf hanging on the opposite wall. Its edges swirled and curled, the wood getting carried away with itself.” – Pg. 90
- “The teapot itself, also white, had a sort of attitude about it: tall and fancy, its handle curving up and over like a wave, like it was dead keen to get in your cup.” – Pg. 91