The Elsewhere Emporium – Ross Mackenzie

   The Elsewhere Emporium – Ross Mackenzie, Kelpies, 9781782505198, 2018

Format: Paperback Middle Grade Fiction, 288 pages

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Genre:  Fantasy Adventure and Magic

What did you like about the book:  This is the sequel to MacKenzie’s Nowhere Emporium.  

In this book, Ellie’s father has died, leaving the Emporium to Daniel, who puts his own twist on the wonders inside, transforming it into a grand circus.  He also has removed the veil of secrecy that once surrounded it, giving interviews, etc. The Emporium has no fixed location. It travels from town to town wowing everyone who enters.  The Emporium is powered by the magic of dreams – To enter, you must share one of your best. The writing is rich with descriptive detail. Readers will be able to picture every magnificent thing that Daniel has brought to life inside the Emporium.

Of course, all is not carnivals and candy floss; someone is inside who should not be.  Who is it? What do they want?

Although this is, largely, a gentle story of friendship and cooperation against something strong and evil, the story structure is complicated.  Very short chapters switch between the Bureau of Magical Investigation in 1967 and two different sets of characters in the present day. Give yourself a block of time to read many chapters all at once, to get familiar with all the characters and settings.

This book could be enjoyed without reading Book 1 – But it’s probably more fun to read both.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  The timeline doesn’t feel correct.  Ellie and Daniel are really still kids, yet Ellie’s father, Mr. Silver, was already a powerful adult magician with a significant reputation more than 50 years ago.

To whom would you recommend this book? Comparisons to Harry Potter are inevitable:  Boy without family is rescued from orphanage by wizard, introduced into a world of magical crime investigation that includes whole streets and neighborhoods that only the initiated can see, etc.  That said, the feel is quite different, and these details were in many books before J.K. Rowling came around.

This is a decent choice for strong young readers who are okay with a little bit of evil menace and intrigue but are not ready for anything truly scary.  

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and elementary schools.

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State:  Robin Shtulman, Athol Public Library, Athol MA

Date of review:  13 December 2018


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