Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge
What would it be like to know you don't belong? I mean, truly don't belong. To know that you are a human amongst fay, or fay amongst humans? To know that your family is not the one decided by birth, but rather by the whims of others?
Edmund knows that he doesn't belong with his parents and sister Alexis. It's more than preteen angst-he isn't human. He's able to start fires with his mind and change his appearance to look human. But Edmund can't return home, a changeling is in his place. The "Human Childe" is living with the royalty at Court to be shown off like a prized pet instead of a son.
During a royal gathering, the King's sister Hawthorne returns to seek vengeance on her brother and his wife. After watching his fay parents get turned into rats, he escapes with his page Wick, a golem, from the World Below to find the one person who can save them all-his changeling brother.
The brothers set off to the World Below-a place that can be found below the subway tunnels. Once below, the boys realize that there is one more person who can help. Edmund's sister Alexis followed the boys and won't let hem continue without her help. Through a series of adventures, some which find them allies while others enemies, the boys work together to save the kingdom.
The artwork is incredible-the World Below is very atmospheric and dark. It took an embarrassingly long time to realize that the pages where outlined in white when the story was taking place up above and outlined in black when they were in the fay kingdom down below. I know, I know. The fay characters had a really unusual look to them. The royalty were all long fingers, tall bodies, and sharp looking spiny growths on their arms and faces. There was a variety of other characters too-different animal inspired creatures with odd horns and floppy ears.
Alexis was a really great character. She was always understanding and supportive of both boys-she really did see both of them as being her brother. I think that unwavering support will resonate with a lot of the kids that read this. The human parents seemed completely oblivious. They didn't catch on that a different kid was living with them. There's a quick scene where a dragon-like creature is chasing the kids through a subway tunnel and little girl sees them but not her mother-she's too busy on her phone. Parents are always oblivious.
There's a ton of adventure going on in this book. Hiding from scary guards, looking for secret maps, and trying to outrun dragons. Between the magic, fighting, and dragons the story never slows down. My son absolutely loved it and he's very picky about his books.
Highly recommend this one-it was a really fun ride.
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