The Portal by Ashley Uzzell
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication: April 13th, 2018
Source: Review copy from Author – Thank You
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Five children find themselves stuck in a beautiful jungle on a strange planet. But all is not as peaceful as it first appears.
Twelve-year-old Charlotte has been different all her life. It isn’t just that her father left when she was a child, or her mother ignores her. What really makes her an outsider is the fact that she has strange abilities that she can’t explain and struggles to control. Everything changes in the summer of 1993 when she feels drawn to a certain spot outside of town. Unfortunately, she isn’t alone when things go sideways.
When the children realize they are definitely not on Earth anymore, they have to learn not only how to fend for themselves, but how to get along. The problem is, even Charlotte has no idea how to get off the alien planet. And, perhaps, she doesn’t want to.
It doesn’t take long for the five to realize they aren’t alone in this strange land and that life here is more dangerous than they could have imagined.
This story is split into three parts and when I got to the end of the first, below is verbatim what I jotted now in my notebook:
“Part one: absolutely delightful. I love the magic and the young witch that Ashley has created. I love the way that Charlotte connects with nature. I love the ragtag gang of earth kids and journeying with them as they are stranded in the strange new world. So far the story feels fresh and exciting. So far the story has touched on bullying and feeling like you never fit in.”
I didn’t take any notes after parts one and two – I was just racing through to the end. And once I got there I would have happily kept on reading.
The Portal is the first book in Ashley’s Tales of Mentara series, with the second installment planned for april next year (2019). The series intends to follow the main set of characters as they grow from middle graders into teens and on. In this the first book the eldest of the main characters is 12, but due to their life circumstances most of them act quite mature for their age. I actually kept forgetting that they were meant to be middle graders, I kept seeing 15/17 yr olds in my head. I am looking forward to seeing these kids grow and seeing the dynamics of their relationships change. I’m especially keen on seeing how Charottle’s whitchly powers develop as she ages and what becomes of Thomas’s health.
The YAY parts: The ragtag group of earth kids stranded in a strange new world. Their adventures in a new world. The tribe of native war orphans who accept the earthlings into their ranks. The way Charlotte connects to the world around her. The story touching on bullying, acceptance and the beauty of nature.
The NAY parts: To me the Characters felt older than they were meant to be and as such I had some Huh? moments, but not enough to disrupt the story flow or hinder my enjoyment too much. And damn, it was so long ago that I was twelve how would I know how a twelve year olds think and behave these days.
Conclusion: A fantastical tale of friendship, nature magic and mysterious new worlds – best suited to the younger YA audience.