It seems I have been inundated with middle-grade novels to read. While I do prefer YA in terms of subject matter (I am more drawn to the themes discussed in YA), the middle-grade books I have been reading are strong, appropriate, and fun.
Storybound is no exception.
The book started out slow, carefully world-building, introducing characters and spinning the beginning of a mystery, but as I reached the middle it began to pick up pace. (Much appreciated. An earlier middle-grade novel, while strong, was much too slow for my taste) Then came a GIGANTIC surprise twist that I didn't see coming until it was right up on me, but it was so ingenious that I instantly became a huge fan of the story and wanted the sequel immediately. Seriously. This new author has some guts.
Another thing I really liked was that I was able to tell what the author's influences were without the author having to spell out what type of books she read as a child. Multiple descriptions of food, references to other stories, and types of characters let me know that this author must have read Anne of Green Gables or Redwall as a child (I think her site mentions Anne of Green Gables).
The story focuses on Una Fairchild, a lonely orphan who often escapes her dreary life by delving into storybooks. Until one day she literally jumps into the pages of a mysterious book and enters the world of Story. She begins attending classes (Villainy, Heroics, etc.), attempting to figure out who brought her here and why. As the story unfolds, we realize that no one, not even Una, is who they seem.
There's a sly twist of Snow White's character (quite amusing and somewhat sad at the same time), a villain-who's-actually-a-hero, Muses, a talking cat, and two handsome boys. And then there's Una, with a backstory as mysterious as everyone else's.
Trust me -- this book (and its sequel) is well worth the read. I can't wait until Story's End appears on the shelves!