Far removed from the Gothic fantasy of his Printz award winning Midwinterblood (2013), Marcus Sedgwick’s new YA mystery wraps a contemporary story of a blind girl searching for her father around the idea of “hidden patterns in the universe”.
When 16 year-old Laureth gets a message that makes her believe her father has gone missing in New York, she takes her “slightly strange” 7 year-old brother, Benjamin, and they fly from London to find him. She needs her brother with her because she was born blind. Laureth determinedly tries to hide her vulnerability from the rest of the world with a variety of strategies and she navigates us through their challenging journey so that we can begin to understand how she navigates through life without visual cues.
Her father is obsessed with finding meaning in coincidences, and Laureth becomes increasingly aware of them as they follow his cryptic trail. Pages from her father’s notebook, on topics from Jung to Poe, give the reader more food for thought on the subject.
A growing sense of unease is brilliantly created, though the quest, which puts both Laureth and Benjamin to the test, ends in a more conventional way than you might hope, even as it ties up all the loose ends. This is a well-paced, moving story with superbly developed characters (including the fabulous Mr. Walker), and the end of the final chapter will make some readers want to go back and reexamine everything they have just read.