Twelve-year-old Nell Perkins knows there is magic at work that she can’t yet understand. Her mother has been taken by witches and turned into a bird. Nell must journey to get her mother back, even if it takes her deep into the Wicked Places — the frightening realm where Nightmares resides. There she must break the spell and stop the witches from turning our world into a living nightmare.
I must admit that the cover of this book is what caught my attention on Netgalley. Look at how the different elements blend together, creating this sense of some sort of eerie fog hovering off in the distance. I love how the different dream elements are creeping in from the edges as the three children stand in the middle waiting for a confrontation. And don't miss the ominous, looming purple cloud. It really does a great job of setting the tone for the story that readers will encounter.
Unfortunately, I read this book months ago and got so busy that I did not get a chance to write a review immediately after finishing it. I'm terrible about keeping notes as I read, so only major details stick around when I get ready to write reviews. Maybe that makes my reviews more authentic? After all, don't we want to experience those stories that linger with us long after the covers have been closed?
For me, I found, The Fearless Travelers' Guide to Wicked Places to be best suited for younger middle-grade readers-- probably the 4th to 5th grade age range. Sitting at 384 pages, it might be a bit daunting for younger readers, but a good fan of fantasy/ adventure stories can easily over come the length. The confusing plot, however, will be a bit harder to overcome for a struggling reader. I remember running into a few places that made me pause and reread. I cannot honestly say if it was wording or maybe just descriptions, but something through off the flow. When I read books geared towards the kids I teach, I tend to imagine what they might experience as I read so I can be prepared for my recommendations. I also found a few places that I felt had pacing issues. They either moved too slowly to keep interest or sped through scenes that could have benefited from more development. The good news, though, is that the characters are different enough that readers looking for something "scary" will probably stay engaged by the novelty without running the risk of being kept awake at night from fear (no Stephen King quality chills here).