Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Lady from Nowhere

The Lady from Nowhere
by Cerberus Jones
Recommended Ages: 10+

When the enigmatic Leaf Man emerges from the gateway beneath the hotel that James and Amelia's parents own and operate, he carries with him the lady who built the hotel 150 years ago – and she hasn't aged a day since she disappeared into the Nowhere between the wormholes that connect earth to many far-flung worlds. Matilda Swervingthorpe brings with her dire news. Putting her evidence together with James's math-genius calculations, it seems that intergalactic villain Krskn, a shapechanger and deceiver whose true form is appropriately reptilian, is back with a plot to seize control of the wormhole system that controls travel across the universe. All he needs is to put together an artifact that Gateway Control has held for generations, not knowing what it was, with a source of power that's been lost as long as Matilda – I mean, Miss Swervingthorpe. And there's only one place where he can set it up.

If he gets away with it, it'll mean more than revealing the existence of aliens and interstellar travel to a planet Control doesn't think is ready for the knowledge. It'll also probably destroy the wormhole network and all the worlds connected to it. Which, notably, includes Earth. And when the phone lines conveniently go down at the hotel, the only people who have a chance to get a warning out on time are, you guessed it, Amelia and her best friend Charlie. But even a well-placed "Black Alert" may be too little, too late in the installment that brings the world to a turning point. If the series goes on after this book, it will be in a changed world.

This is the eighth and, so far, latest book in "The Gateway" series by Australian author Cerberus Jones, who is really two or three people – at this point in the series, Chris Morphew (author of the "Phoenix Files" series) and Rowan McAuley (author of several "Go Girl!" titles). I'm reading them out of order, as used copies that I ordered online arrive on my doorstep, which is an interesting way to go through a series for sure. Each book is a complete and satisfying, albeit brief, story in a well-crafted, chapter book style with attractive illustrations, smart dialogue, characters with real personality and a wouldn't-this-be-cool, world-changing story arc running through them. And of course, there's this book's cover art depicting a bipedal lizard rubbing its hands together while what looks like an electric guitar glows with jagged, dangerous-looking power. I mean, who can resist?

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