by John and Carole E. Barrowman
Amazon / Goodreads
Plot Summary:Lots of twins have a special connection, but twelve-year-old Matt and Emily Calder can do way more than finish each other’s sentences. Together, they are able to bring art to life and enter paintings at will. Their extraordinary abilities are highly sought after, particularly by a secret group who want to access the terrors called Hollow Earth. All the demons, devils, and evil creatures ever imagined are trapped for eternity in the world of Hollow Earth—trapped unless special powers release them.
The twins flee from London to a remote island off the west coast of Scotland in hopes of escaping their pursuers and gaining the protection of their grandfather, who has powers of his own. But the villains will stop at nothing to find Hollow Earth and harness the powers within. With so much at stake, nowhere is safe—and survival might be a fantasy.
Review:This was a fun, light-hearted adventure read, but the world-building and the characters were not as immersive as I could have hoped. This may be due to it being more for a Middle Grade audience, but I couldn't connect with the characters as much as I wanted to, and sometimes it was hard for me to imagine just how the power of the animares and the guardians worked. It's still not very clear to me why the two need each other and why they have such a strong connection.
The main characters, Matt and Em, are intriguing enough though to keep me interested in their story. The novel blends in some mystery, fantasy and action for a very fast-paced read with many twists. However, even though the story does move at a fast pace, because it was difficult for me to get into the world and the characters I thought the beginning was a bit slow going. But it does get better as you read on.
The ideas behind the world - of being able to animate a drawing to life is a great one, and one that I think would be fantastic to see in a film or TV show. In fact, I often thought this book would make a better story in a visual medium because the action is so visually exciting. It would probably help too if I was more familiar with some of the artists mentioned throughout. Even though I rated this book as more average, I really think with the right person it's a wonderful read, and as the start of a new series, it could be very exciting to follow Matt and Em to the end of their story. Some of the mystery still remains at the end, although there is a satisfying conclusion.