The book has received two starred reviews, one from Kirkus and one from Publishers’ Weekly, which is a shedload of starriness! I have already bragged on the Kirkus review on twitter, but please run your eye over this Publisher’s Weekly review!
‘Elliot Schafer is a small-for-his-age 13-year-old who is prone to being bullied—largely due to his personality, which slots somewhere between insufferable know-it-all and sarcastic jackass. When Elliot’s class travels to a “random field in Devon, England” for a supposed scholarship test, he instead winds up in a strange world known as the Borderlands, which are filled with elves, mermaids, and other creatures. So begins Brennan’s hilarious, irreverent, and multilayered coming-of-age fantasy, set over several years. Elliot quickly befriends (and falls for) Serene, a fierce elven warrior, and arranges a reluctant truce with Luke Sunborn, the son of one of the Borderland’s founding families. All three—along with every young person there—are training in war or as councilors, charged with protecting the fragile barrier with the human world. Amid shifting relationships, the threat of war, and substantial growth among the characters, Elliot’s razor-edged wit and general inability to keep his mouth shut make for blissfully entertaining reading. Smart explorations of gender stereotypes, fluid sexuality, and awkward romance only add to the depth and delight of this glittering contemporary fantasy.’
Bullied due to his personality! Inability to keep his mouth shut! I love how the reviews so far have been like: the hero is a terrible pill, but we are willing to buy this pill and take him home.
Also, here is an excerpt of the review in Locus magazine.
‘I have rewritten the first paragraph of this review a half-dozen times, trying to find some way to make clear that Sarah Rees Brennan has created a nearly perfect YA fantasy without gushing. I can’t do it. In Other Lands is brilliantly subversive, assuredly smart, and often laugh-out-loud funny. It combines a magic-world school setting with heaps of snark about everything from teen romance to gender roles, educational systems and serious world diplomacy. The protagonist, Elliot, directs his often peevish analysis and jaded perspective on everyone he meets and everything he sees, but his evolution from bratty 13-year-old to soulful 17-year-old is a thing of beauty to witness. Elliot’s transformation, along with his deepening relationships with friends Serene (Serene-Heart- in-the-Chaos-of-Battle!) and Luke, are the book’s heartbeat. As you can tell from my gushing, the characters are impossible to resist and, combined with the engaging plot, Brennan has worked a miracle with In Other Lands. Mark my words, folks; this author has written what must be considered one of the best books of the year.’
I share this with you because I share it with everyone. I am stitching it on a tapestry to hang on my wall. I note Elliot being called bratty with great delight.
I am humbled and amazed to see a book that was never meant to be a book be received so kindly. I hope not to let down my awesome publishers! I am so thankful to those of you I have heard from, who like the book so far! This is a strange and lovely experience, which I feel books should be.
And for your delectation, dear readers, I have written an essay on Tor (most delightful to have written a piece for Tor!) on wings. On some of my favourite books with winged characters. On wingfic. There’s some discussion of wingfic. Our Winged Brains.
GREAT AND TERRIBLE THINGS I HAVE WROUGHT.