Lost Children of the Far Islands by Emily Raabe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My 10 year old son purchased this book on one of our visits to the bookstore. He had a few books to finish before he could begin it- so, I scooped it up. I had never heard of Emily Raabe but I am always cozy within a book about children who discover they have magical abilities.
Raabe introduces her readers to a fantastical world like none that has appeared in the more recent fantasy books for children. Her Selkie-Lore is beautifully spun with a modern twist, making her story both approachable and mysterious.
Taking place in the northernmost part of Maine, "Lost Children of the Far Islands" is a book of rocks, and sea, and folk tale. Twins, Gustavia and Leomaris, and their intentionally mute little sister, Ila, are the children of a Physical Oceanographer father and an Artist mother who only paints the sea.
They are a loving family who nurture and support one another. Which is why, when some unfathomable events begin to happen, the children do not understand why their parents become so secretive.
Their father is looking into the possible reasons why several fishing ships in the area have gone missing along with their crew. Their mother has suddenly become inexplicably ill and weak and withdrawn. As if this isn't frightening enough, strange and enormous paw prints are appearing outside their home.
In conversation with their parents, the children share that they have noticed a disturbingly increased aptitude for being underwater. This alarms their parents, who decide the children must go and stay with their grandfather for a while. There is a lot of whispering behind closed doors between their mother and father. The children are frustrated because they know they are being kept in the dark about something serious and unusual.
When an impossible visitor comes in the night and introduces himself to the children with the promise to be able to explain everything to them, they embark on a dangerous and magical adventure.
This is Raabe's first children's novel and it is well executed.
My only criticism is that I think fewer pages could have been used describing the mystery behind Ila's lack of speech. There were six pages about it but, when the "explanation" for her purposeful muteness is given, it lacks proper development. Other than that, this is an engaging, exciting, endearing story that will interest both boys and girls alike.
Recommended for ages 8+. 4 stars.