Across the Wall by Garth Nix Review

by Editor

Eos, August, 2005
Hardcover, 305 pages
ISBN: 0060747137
Ages Young Adult

Across the Wall by Garth Nix

This delightful short story collection from Australian children's author Garth Nix begins with a meaty novella entitled "Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case," which picks up right after the events in the Abhorsen, the third book in the Abhorsen trilogy (Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen). Nicholas Sayre barely made out of the Old Kingdom alive, but now that's he's back in Ancelstierre, south of the Wall which keeps the Charter Magic at bay, all he wants is to go back to the Old Kingdom. As a wealthy son of an important father, Nicholas is invited to a house party, which is a cover for a secret experiment run in the basement. Going undercover for his father, Nicholas finds that the scientists are keeping a dormant powerful Free Magic creature prisoner. When the creature escapes, Nicholas must call upon every bit of his ingenuity and brains to save those in its rampaging path back to the Old Kingdom. The story is fast-moving and full of suspense and atmosphere. The only disappointment here is that the story doesn't continue on for the rest of the book.

The rest of the stories are all introduced by the author with interesting little notes and explanations. "Hansel's Eyes" is an edge-of-your seat urban retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story in which a witch uses computer games and junk food to lure unwary children into her story, and which will linger in the reader's mind long after the story is over. The other stories vary in style and length -- from differing twists on the Merlin legend to a moving story of children and war, to the oldest story in the lot, a very funny satire of the "chose your own adventure" games called "Down to the Scrum Quarter." Nix is one of the best fantasy writers working today, and this collection is a must-have for fans.

--Claire E. White

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