Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge.
When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves.
Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes.
Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.
But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.
Content warnings are available via the author’s website: https://www.lauraeweymouth.com/books
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book that I’d seen described as the redeeming of Susan from Narnia, but I really enjoyed it. It’s a quiet read, but full of emotion.
We start with Ev, who is the youngest of the three who travel to the woodlands, and is not always a likeable character, but I found her sympathetic. She is heartbroken by coming back and can’t find a way to move past it. Plus going back to yourself five years younger sounds horrific, so it was hard not to feel sympathy for that. She is quite single minded about it, but she is horribly depressed and just doesn’t know how to cope. Her section is quite hard reading, especially because of poor Tom who deserves none of her rubbish lol.
And then we move to Phil’s point of view. We go through not knowing much about why she left, or her life since the woodlands, and I adored getting that viewpoint already having the context of Ev’s state of mind. I also love her adult perspective – especially the realisation she has about having grown apart from their parents since returning. That felt very poignant and real. Phil’s section is more grounded in the future, so I’m a little sad we don’t learn more about what happened with her in the woodlands (especially about spoilers hehe). I loved her new life though, and how she moves forward.
I will say that Jamie was a nice side character but also a bit wasted? He’s there too but not in the blurb, not part of Phil and Ev’s lives in that way, and even while in the woodlands he was always off somewhere else. I think that was a bit of a shame.
I love, so much, how this tackles the question of what happens AFTER the adventure. How do people deal with the fallout. I think Ev’s reaction is very realistic, especially given her age and the whole “de-aging” thing. I think it was easier for Phil and Jamie, and it was nice to see that contrast, but also how Ev’s reaction affected them – especially Phil. I actually loved why Phil ended up going away – it showed that Ev was aware, at least a little, of her affect on her.
This book should really come with spoiler warnings though – there’s self harm and suicidal tendencies all over. I think it’s pretty well handled by the characters around her though. **(Please note that this was written before I noted that these were actually included in the goodreads blurb).**
The other thing that kept jumping out to me was how obviously well to do their family was! Phil in particular definitely seemed to carry herself with the assurance of those with enough money not to worry. I’m not sure I’d say they were “rich” but they definitely weren’t poor. I found that quite interesting, for all that it’s not a theme that’s explicit in the book, it colours everything they do and the opportunities they have access to. It definitely struck me at several points throughout the book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. It’s not a book with action, but of longing and sadness, of family. And I think gorgeously written.
Buy The Light Between Worlds from Amazon UK (affiliate link)