Series: The Colours of Madeleine #1
Published by Pan Australia on January 1st 2014
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!