“I don’t know where to start. She’s critiquing your existence!” // Review of “A Corner of White” by Jaclyn Moriarty #aww2017

Title: A Corner of White (Colours  of Madeleine #1)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Genre: YA/urban fantasy
Audio book narrator: Fiona Hardingham, Andrew Eiden, Kate Reinders, Peter McGowan
Date Read: 21/02/2017 – 03/03/2017
Rating: ★★★★


Well, if this book isn’t completely charming. Very character-driven, and as such, probably not for everyone, but I was emotionally invested enough by the end that seeing evidence of character growth made me smile tearfully.

A Corner of White is set paritally in Cambridge, England, home of Madeleine Tully, and partially in the province of The Farms in the Kingdom of Cello. In the past, people used to  travel between the two places via “cracks”, though these have since been closed. The World has forgotten about Cello, and the penalty for not reporting a crack in Cello is death. But when Madeleine Tully pulls a letter out of a parking metre in Cambridge and begins a correspondence with Elliot Buranski, they become each other’s confidant as they attempt to navigate teenage life and love, and try to understand why the people they love aren’t around any more.

Madeleine is a tricky character to understand. A lot of the time, the Madeleine that came across in her letters to Elliot felt quite separate from the Madeleine that we saw through the eyes of her friends. It was sometimes  a bit hard to reconcile the two. However, she started to make more sense as the story went on. Madeleine doesn’t believe in the Kingdom of Cello for most of the story, instead thinking that her mysetery correspondent is a lonely, geeky boy world-building a novel. She critiques him on his world-building and gives him suggestions for how to make the writing stronger. While this is frustrating for Elliot, it did make the writing very self-aware and entertaining.

Elliot is a bit easier to get a grasp on. His father went missing a year before the beginning of the story, and while everyone in the twon suspects he ran off with the local physics teacher (who disappeared at the same time), Elliot is convinced that there’s something more nefarious at work. He just has no idea how close he is to the truth.

The world-building for Cambridge is quite straightforward, with Madeleine’s quirky friends and acquaintances adding colour to the scenes. It’s in Cello where things are different. While they still drive trucks or take trains and have TV and that sort of thing, they are also vulnerable to Colour attacks: strange weather phenomena that can affect their minds or outright attack them. Colours are graded depending on their ferocity. These took a little while to figure out at first, but there is enough description for you to get the idea, and then it’s easy to imagine the effects of differnt Colours. There is also Butterfly Child, a small fairy-like creature that Elliot catches but does not know how to befriend.

The writing is beautiflu and  lyrical. As I said, the story is quite character-driven (though the plot picks up in the last third maybe? And has left a lot of room  for further adventures in the next book) but I really enjoyed watching the relationships between various characters develop as they learned more about themselves and each other. I feel like this is one of those books where the story and writing are enhanced by the audio narrators, all four of them do a fantastic job (Fiona Hardingham and Andrew Eiden do the bulk of it, with the other two taking on smaller character roles). I am disappointed that my library’s Overdrive does not have the next two books in the series, but I have already obtained print copies, so I’m not going to complain too much.

I’m reading back over what I’ve written here and feel like I haven’t quite done this book justice. I do recommend it, though!

(This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017. Click here for more information).

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3 thoughts on ““I don’t know where to start. She’s critiquing your existence!” // Review of “A Corner of White” by Jaclyn Moriarty #aww2017

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