Title: Thresholds
Author: Nina Kiriki Hoffman
ISBN: 9780670063192
Pages: 242 pages
Publisher/Date: Viking, c2010.
Reviewed from ARC furnished by Publisher
Publication Date: August 5, 2010

Since I realize ARCs (Advanced Reader Copy) are not the finalized book and can go through the editing process still, I figured I’d quote from rather than the ARC itself. The cover image was also taken from

Maya’s family has just moved from Idaho to Spores Ferry, Oregon. She’s nervous about starting middle school and making new friends, but soon that’s the last thing on her mind. First, a fairy flies into her room. Then it turns out that the kids in the apartment building next door do magic, and their basement is full of portals to other worlds. She’s bursting with new experiences and delight . . . and secrets, because she can’t breathe a word to her family, not even when she winds up taking care of an alien!

Imagine the family in Ingrid Law’s Savvy seen through the eyes of a young Ray Bradbury. Cross the Threshold!

This is another author that I have never had any exposure to, but just reading that comparison to Savvy had me hooked. The cover just draws you in too, because you think it’s a mistake. There’s some… thing that seems to radiate from behind her hand, and not in her hand, like it would if she was holding something.

Maya has had a hard time lately, dealing with the death of her best friend to cancer. She really needs some magic in her life, and the fact that it comes from next door seems like a real bonus. Another reviewer on Goodreads commented that they liked the lack of a bad guy, and they’re right. The bad guy is distant and removed. We know he/she/they/it is out there, but we aren’t privy to an appearance in this book, which makes me wonder if there is going to be a sequel. Correction, it makes me think there has to be a sequel.

The other refreshing part of this story is that Maya has a loving family. So many times in teen literature there are absent parents, distressed friends, troubled siblings, etc. But everyone in this story seems to be well meshed. Maya is refreshingly (if not un-realistically) oblivious to what the “cool kids” think of her hanging out with her weirdo neighbors. Her new friends are for the most part accepting, with one notable exception, but that sort of adds to the minor conflicts that might build to big conflicts later. We have a teen who knows absolutely nothing about the magic she has stumbled across, and it’s introduced in a way that brings out Maya’s fears and uncertainties.

My one complaint is that the novel begins fairly abruptly, with the fairy and Maya finding each other. I would have liked to be introduced to the family pre-fairy, to get a better feel of the family dynamic. Maya relates these interactions to the readers in flashback-esque descriptions of what they used to do before moving, but I would have liked to have observed this personally. Maybe a prologue or introductory chapter before the move would have done it.

But overall, good descriptions of the magical things that Maya encounters, and her drawing talent is a nice inclusion that I can see as an asset and a downfall in future installments, if/when they are ever made available.

Because I received this ARC from the publisher at ALA, I’m doing my VERY FIRST GIVEAWAYand would like to offer it up to someone who’s interested in reading it. So, answer this question:

If you could open a portal to a literary world, where would you want it to go?

You have until Midnight (that’s US Eastern Time), Wednesday, August 11th to comment with an answer to this question. You can also e-mail me with your response, but if chosen your answer and name will be made public. My favorite answer will recieve a copy of this book sent to them. Entrants must live within the United States (sorry international readers) and be at least 13 years old.

I was going to post this as a Friday Feature, but I’ve got something bigger planned for tomorrow, so be sure to check back again in the next couple hours. Plus, the book was released to the public today, so I personally think my timing is excellent. 🙂