The Norumbegan Quartet

 M.T. Anderson

It’s amazing how divided the genre of young adult novels can be.  There is the mindless shlock full of sparkling vampires, short words, poor grammar and insipid plot-lines.  Then there are brilliant, complex and wildly imaginative series like Jinks’ Evil Genius, Stewart’s Mysterious Benedict Society and now Anderson’s Norumbegan Quartet. Even the book titles are excellent and intriguing: The Game of Sunken Places, The Suburb Beyond the Stars, The Empire of Gut and Bone and The Chamber in the Sky.  The main characters, Brian and Gregory, react like normal children in a bizarre situation.  They are the best of friends but jealousy and petty fights are still common. each book builds on a fantastic premise, on the idea of fairies.  But like the old stories, these aren’t beautiful wise Tinkerbells, but something shiny, glamorous, dangerous and not to be trusted.  Their rivals are nightmarish creatures out of Dark City.  And the two human boys are unwittingly made pawns. Engrossing reads with likeable, real characters and fantastically detailed and imagined other worlds.