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The International Writers Magazine: Young Fiction Reviews

The Underwood See
by Michael Lawrence,
Orchard Books £5.99
ISBN-10: 1841211702
ISBN-13: 978-1841211701
Emma McGill.

Naia and Alaric use the willow tree in the north garden at Withern Rise to transport themselves to different realities. Here they meet and with the help of Aldous U. they work out the secrets of their worlds, bringing them together. This is a brilliantly written book,

Michael Lawrence captivates life questions and subconscious thoughts that perhaps we only imagine in dreams. It appears quite dark at times and perhaps this book seems a bit older than the 11+ age group it is aimed at.

I believe that children will be gripped by this book and opened up to thoughts that they possibly never contemplated before. Michael Lawrence weaves together a fascinating tapestry that not only engrosses but rouses thoughts in wondering what is beyond our own reality.

It also raises serious issues; Naia finds herself in a situation of attempted rape, however after this event she doesn’t seem to dwell or be affected by it. As a reader this seems quite an odd thing to do, whether Lawrence is trying to show to children that you should not let these things affect you and to move forward, I am not sure of.

It may look as if I am illustrating a negative analysis of this novel, nevertheless like everything; bad points also come with their good points. The book is dark and deep on occasion but it has the standard happy ending that every child loves. It is fast moving but with a warm appeal.

Some of the language used and the imagery visualised in the mind does not seem suitable for any mentality younger than fourteen years perhaps. I think there should perhaps be a warning on the back of the book to highlight that there are parts with explicit language and descriptions.

A last concern in my mind would be; that if you are a parent purchasing this book for your child, I would be warned of some of the dark elements it discloses. If you find it acceptable to have your child alerted to some of the dangers that can lurk in life, then this book is perfect. However, if you don’t want your young ones to be opened to a world of violence and crime, just yet, I’d let this book rest back on the shelf.

When reading this novel I could not put the book down, it followed me around the house all day, it is charismatic and thought provoking, the perfect trilogy to Michael Lawrence’s previous novels; A Crack in the Line and Small Eternities.
The story leaves you wondering ‘what if’ and the chain of events and cycle begin again with the son of Naia; Alexander Aldous Underwood and in his opposite reality with Alexandra Ivana Underwood.

It is charming and magical and the mysteries formed by Lawrence are one of a kind, created in such a way that they have you questioning your own theories.

© emma - mcgill October 2007
shl60537 at

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