When Dawn found the old cello in the dilapidated barn, she thought she had scored that jackpot. Now she could join the music class at her new school. She would be able to practice again. But when she begins to play, things happen. Magical things. The music of Dawn's cello and her string quartet draw them into another world.
Using music as a form of magic is a beautiful and fresh concept in this genre. As someone who's always loved the idea of playing music, it gave me goosebumps. While it did take me awhile to get into this book, it has a great story, with twists and turns, and a convoluted plot. It would have received a higher rating, except for a few flaws, the biggest of which was the occasionally confusing writing style. There is a lot of head jumping in the narrative and -while I love a good head jumping story- some of these leaps were not made clear to the reader.
There is a prologue, set during WWII, before we jump forward to present day. The prologue is interesting; it concerns several characters introduced later on down the road. My issue with it is that we didn't get a good indication of how these characters went from their situation in the prologue to where they wound up in the present day. I gleaned the gist of what happened, so there are no serious repercussions in the book, but it felt like there was a hole in history.
For the most part, the characters feel well-rounded and we get to see different sides of them. Abigail, the haughty popular girl, was probably my favorite because she had such opposing elements in her personality.
The world of Roethagen where the quartet finds themselves had some very interesting elements, and I like the way that magic can be stored and used from a pipe system throughout the main city. There seem to be detailed rules of magic here, and ordinary things like eating a meal can make you more susceptible to someone's attack, which I found utterly fascinating. I would have liked to know more about the world, its history, magic, and social structure but, for all the time spent here, I never felt familiar with it. This could have been intentional, since the quartet spends more time trying to find a way home than learning about the culture, but I would have loved to feel more a part of this place.
I did enjoy how much the real world was involved in the story. The adventure isn't just contained in this other world, but its repercussions follow the characters back and forth.
This is a fun story and I'd recommend it for the tween crowd of Brandon Mull's Beyonders.