Janni Lee Simner’s first novel for young adults is a dark fairy-tale twist on apocalyptic fiction—as familiar as a nightmare, yet altogether unique. (from Goodreads)
This book reminded me a lot of The Road by Cormac McCarthy because of the desolate landscape Janni Lee Simner portrays in this story. It's a fascinating mix of post-apocalyptic and fantasy where magic is the reason for such a stark and threatening place that once called itself the Midwest...more specifically, Missouri. I loved the tension created by the vicious trees and ruthless animals Liza encounters on her journey. You can really feel the fear the townspeople have toward the magical wilderness; its almost a force of evil.
The use of reflections was also a really cool effect of this world. Whether it was a reflection in a mirror of some sort or standing water, reflections have a power all their own. And since Missouri has two huge bodies of water, the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, not to mention the arch (a gigantic metal mirror), I can see how Simner was inspired to set her story right here at the confluence.
Although this story was very original and all the references to St. Louis made me happy (Go Cardinals!) I feel like it could have been more developed. Everything that happened felt like it needed to be expanded upon. I wanted to know more about the characters: their histories, motivations, etc. The narration only skimmed the surface. We're introduced to Liza and her family and the problems with magic surrounding the town, but I wanted more about their relationships. Especially between her parents. It was an interesting world, but it just didn't hit a deep nerve with me.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read and I recommend it to anyone who drives I-44 on a daily basis, but I wish it had a little more.