A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty Review: Hurry, the Reds are here!

December 3, 2015 by Jenna | 4 stars, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty Review: Hurry, the Reds are here!A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
Series: The Colours of Madeleine #1
Published by Pan Australia on January 1st 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World - a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie's Tea Shop.
Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello - where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours. They are worlds apart - until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white - the slim seam of a letter.
Elliot begins to write to Madeleine, the Girl-in-the-World - a most dangerous thing to do for suspected cracks must be reported and closed.
But Elliot's father has disappeared and Madeleine's mother is sick. Can a stranger from another world help to unravel the mysteries in your own? Can Madeleine and Elliot find the missing pieces of themselves before it is too late?
A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.

"A Corner of White is that rare thing - an astonishingly original novel that speaks equally to the heart and intelligence of its audience." NSW Premier's Literary Awards, judge's comments.
"It tugs at the heartstrings while teasing the intellect with its wild imaginings. A concoction of science, artistry and magic written with breathtaking ingenuity.' Queensland Literary Awards.

A Corner of White is a great blend of the contemporary and fantasy genres. The book reads like a contemporary novel but is set partially in a fantasy world. In this novel, we follow two teenagers and their coming of age stories. Both Madeleine and Elliot are going through a tough time. Elliot’s father has been missing for a year and nobody knows whether he has been abducted by violent magical beings called Colours or run away with the Physics teacher. Elliot is determined to find his father even if it means taking long journeys to faraway places and being attacked by Colours, Hostiles, dragons and werewolves along the way. Madeleine has run away from home seventeen and a half times, and the last time she ran away, her mother came with her. Now they’re living in a tiny apartment in Cambridge, England and Madeleine wants nothing more but to go home to her previous lavish lifestyle.

When I first started this book, I was expecting something a little bit different to what we actually got. This book is very much two separate story arcs that are weakly tied together by the letters that Madeleine and Elliot send to one another through the ‘crack’ in the kingdom, and the fact that these characters are going through similar circumstances. Their lives never cross and their only communication is through the letters that they send to each other through the crack. I was expecting the characters to meet at some point and have a more direct impact on each other’s lives but what we ended up with were two separate stories set in vastly different places. There’s also very little action and plot in this book; it’s definitely more of a slow-paced, character-driven story and leans more contemporary than fantasy. Being a lover of the contemporary genre, this didn’t bother me at all but I can definitely see the lack of action being an issue for some readers. There was a great twist at the end that I didn’t see coming and it took the book to a new level for me.

I thought the fantasy world was interesting and charming. There were lots of interesting elements. For example, the seasons are unstructured and can last anywhere between a day and a fortnight. They also don’t seem to follow a sequence, so spring can come straight after summer. I also thought the idea of the Colours was really interesting. The Colours are these magical/abstract beings that can invade and attack the Kingdom. The Purples, Greys and Yellows are dangerous and lethal, whereas the Reds cause you to act in peculiar ways. There are also different grades and levels to the Colours. A certain grade of Red will make you act like you’re in love and a different grade will cause you to become angry and violent. However, even though I enjoyed reading about the Colours, I thought there needed to be a little bit more world-building. I didn’t have a good sense of why the Colours existed and why they were attacking the Kingdom. We got to see the Colours at work but I didn’t understand why it was happening. Hopefully this is something that will be explored further in the following books.

There are lots of references to science and Isaac Newton. I enjoyed this aspect of the book because I’m a researcher who studies perception. Colour perception to me is fascinating and I liked how much it was explored in A Corner of White. However, I can also see it being a bit too much for an audience who isn’t interested in the science of it. There were moments in the book that were a bit too science heavy and info-dumpy but it’s something that you don’t need to understand in order to enjoy the book.

“It’s black,” she said. “I can honestly say I’ve never seen an aura so full of deception.”

That quote was something said in reference to Madeleine’s character and I have to admit that I didn’t really like her very much in A Corner of White. For a good portion of the book, we only see her from the points of view of other people, which meant that she seemed very enigmatic and unreachable. It was very hard for me to connect with her and relate to her because I didn’t know who she was. She came across as an arrogant little girl who has lived a privileged life. However, I started to warm to her when she started regularly corresponding with Elliot and opening up to him. It was then that I started to understand who she was as a person and I thought her character development was great. Elliot was a character that I liked from the beginning. I mean, he’s the best pecan pie and blueberry muffin baker in his town. What’s not to like? He’s very charismatic and straight-forward, and I felt that I understood his character.


This was my first Jaclyn Moriarty read and I was impressed with the writing in this book. I enjoyed the pace and the contemporary feel of the book, and I also thought that the fantasy world was charming and enjoyable to discover. It did feel a little bit underdeveloped to me, but I’m hoping that the other two books in the trilogy will remedy that.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book! 

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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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29 responses to “A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty Review: Hurry, the Reds are here!

  1. sumlynnnguyen

    The concept sounds really cool. Interesting how the seasons work, haha. I have to admit I haven't been a fan of most contemporary/fantasy crossovers though. Maybe because they tend to lack in the world building department, which I guess makes sense for them to. However, I'm glad to hear that the idea of the Colours was explored in this. I think I'd be a reader that would like the science behind it, too. 🙂
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    • Yeah this one definitely kind of lacked in the world building department, but the world was so whimsical and charming that I didn't mind it that much. It just reminded me of rainbows and sunshine haha.

  2. Yay, I do love a character who is great at baking! 😀 It sounds like the fantasy part was a little weak (like what you said about it being under-developed) sooo I'm not sure if I would pick this one up, however exciting it sounds. I'll follow your reviews throughout the series though because the whole Colours/Kingdom thing is really quite intriguing. It's a little disappointing to see that the characters don't really make a direct impact on each others' lives, too, but we'll see how it is in the rest of the series! Fantastico review Jenna. 🙂

    • I know right? ALL of the men in Elliot's town are bakers. There's a scene in Book 2 where Elliot finds a clue that might've been left by his missing father. The clue is in the ingredients list of a cookbook and everyone in the town who looks at it understands and is like "THERE'S TOO MUCH GINGER IN THIS RECIPE". I'm like… I need to find a human-sized crack and move to this town because dayum, I need a boy who will bake me goodies.

  3. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I had judged this book by the cover and thought it was a middle grade… I didn't think I'd like it all that much. However reading your review, I actually feel some interest for it. The Colours aspect sounds so interesting! Great review!

    • The cover really isn't appealing at all, is it? I wouldn't have picked this one up if I saw it in the store (and the spine is just as unattractive). But the content was great and it was better than I had expected. It was a really interesting world that needs a little bit of development, but the only word I can think of to describe it is 'charming'.

  4. paperskiesya

    Woah, this is definitely something unique and new – I've never actually seen this kind of fantasy-contemporary blend, except in movies, maybe? This actually reminds me of Ella Enchanted, strangely lol. But wait. NO MEETING? Pish-posh, how dare they! That defies the logic of young adult hormones, I tell you. We need to rally and make them meet – I can't get over that one little detail at all! It sounds like the book was building to something and then suddenly decided not to go through with it. Sad, but wonderful review, Jenna! Thanks for the warning 😉
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    • Haha I know! I was like… where is the romance?!! But I guess if you're looking for a book that doesn't have romance, this is one for you (shhhh don't tell anyone, but they meet in book 2!)

    • It was a great blend of the genres! I was kind of itching to read some contemporary when I first picked this one up and it worked out perfectly. Thanks for visiting, Joy!

    • It was a wonderful read and I think it's great for contemporary lovers who don't read much fantasy. It's a really good transition book!

    • It's neither. It's more like a contemporary story set in a fantasy world. One half of the book (Madeleine's story) is just straight contemporary because it's set in Cambridge. Elliot's story is set in a fantasy world but it reads like a contemporary. He goes to school and he works and plays Deftball, much like a contemporary character but he lives in a fantasy kingdom where there are dragons and werewolves and Colours that attack you.

    • Oh great! I've heard that some people don't enjoy this because it was too slow and nothing was happening. But I thought the story was really well done and the characters were interesting without being unnecessarily quirky!

    • I have to admit that the spines and the covers aren't exactly the best. They don't scream for me to buy them but the content is wonderful. It's probably more contemporary than it is fantasy right now but I think the sequel will explore some more of the fantasy elements and the magic that was briefly mentioned but not elaborated on.

  5. keionda

    I love the sound of the colours (although the spelling is kind of weird to me because I would rather spell it "Color.") teehee But it's cool that it's so different and that one color can kinda make you feel a different emotion with it! Sure, there are some things that you liked and some that you didn't but in the end it still seems like it was a good read for you! <3

    • Yeah. I loved the contemporary feel and pace of the book and I really enjoyed the book overall. I just wish there had been a little bit more world-building with the Kingdom of Cello because I thought the world was really quirky and charming. In the end it just felt like an alternate contemporary world with some attacking Colo(u)rs and dragons that we never got to meet. But I'm keen to see what the sequel brings because I thought it was a lovely start to the trilogy.

  6. Jenny

    The science element of this one might be a little to heavy for me at times as I'm science and math challenged, but otherwise I love the sound of it Jenna! Looking forward to seeing what you think of the next book:)
    My recent post Review: Blood Kiss

    • It's not TOO sciency. It just mentions and makes references to Isaac Newton a lot. I think you'd be able to understand it but it might be boring for some readers 🙂 I'm about 50 pages into the sequel and I'm enjoying it so far!

    • This one is an Australia YA trilogy and I don't think it's very well-known outside of Australia and the UK (or even in these countries because I'd never heard of it before I received it). This one is probably more contemporary than it is fantasy. Aside from the Colours and the setting, there weren't that many fantasy elements. There's mention of magic and a Lake of Spells so hopefully there'll be more magic in the sequel!

    • I saw the cover of the final book just yesterday and it looks amazing! The colours on that cover are so pretty! You should definitely give it a go! I think it'd be great for a binge because the end of the first book makes you want to jump right into the next one!

  7. I love the sound of the Colours and the auras and glad that it developed the characters for you even though it lacked action and felt pretty slow at times. Glad you enjoyed it Jenna!

    • The Colours were definitely an interesting concept. I just wish I knew more about its origin or why they keep attacking. But at the same time, I'm glad it wasn't an info-dump about all the different Colours and what they do. I'm excited to continue the trilogy!

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