by Pauline Fisk
Recommended Age: 14+
Bonnie has always believed that there is a land beyond the sky. This belief is probably one of the few things that has kept her sane during the years she was brought up by her nasty Grandbag. Finally, her real mother takes her away from Grandbag and tries to make a home of their own; but even then, Grandbag refuses to leave them alone. So when Bonnie learns that one of her neighbors is about to launch a balloon to the land beyond the sky, she doesn’t hesitate. She hops aboard when the guy’s back is turned, and flies off on her own...
Well, not quite on her own. A “shadow boy” comes with her; but that’s too much to explain right now.
Bonnie comes in for a rough landing and wakes up in a farmhouse in a wonderful world where she would like to belong. A world where, she knows, she isn’t good enough to stay. The family that takes her in, no questions asked, is wonderful too – including the mother who looks just like Bonnie’s mother, and the daughter who looks just like Bonnie, and the father who looks just like the neighbor Bonnie balloon-jacked. If Bonnie can get over the hate inside herself that makes her feel unworthy of this family’s love, she may learn to love the mysterious, quiet farm on the hill with its holly grove, its standing stones, its mysterious mine entrance, and the shadow boy who slowly becomes a human boy.
But it won’t be that easy. Even with the spirits who live under the hill helping Bonnie along, through the magical necklace that she can’t take off, Bonnie may not be able to stop a bizarro-Grandbag from destroying her new family. A gypsy fortuneteller Grandbag, that is, full of cruelty and greed, who wants to capture Bonnie’s new sister and mother in a magic mirror and replace them with soulless clones.
Shiver. Shudder. Sob. It’s a strange, disturbing, suspenseful, and very moving fantasy from an award-winning author who lives near the Shropshire hills depicted in the tale. Fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Susan Cooper should feel especially at home. I may have become an overnight Pauline Fisk fan just by reading this book; it has lingered on my mind all day, in a way that the best and most original stories always do.