My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You enter into a world of the familiar, and wham—it’s not familiar but so close. A place where encroaching forests nurture sasquatches, elves, and ghosts, who enter this Earth from deep underground caves. A place where a dark drifting cloud waits to snatch up the dying. Somewhere in Cliffden, Maine.
Twelve-year-old, Gracie Lockwood, decides to write in the diary her mother gave her, after two bad omens, both a sign that someone is about to die, and she’s going to document it. “I want to be able to prove that I knew it first.”
Our MC, Gracie, is a funny young writer. A “Tasmanian-she-devil” her father says. In the beginning, Gracie tells us she has to set the scene, which she does. And what a scene it is! Dragons fly overhead, in from the north to hibernate in South America. A time when all the townspeople take cover or use tunnels to get from place to place. The dragons have burned down the TJMAxx, and Applebees among other familiar places in this fantastical world. I love that the dragons drop scales here and there that people use for decoration. There are tales of mermaids rising from the seas to hunt. And there’s the Dark Cloud.
“Dark Clouds come for people when they die.” Waiting outside their homes. Hanging around. Gracie’s eight-year-old brother is ill. Surely it’s waiting to take him. What does the Lockwood family do?
Gracie’s family escapes. Her meteorologist, absent-minded father, her cheerful mother, who always raises the family’s spirits, an older sister, she doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with, and her beloved little brother, Sam, she calls mouse, who’s a little small for his age, and always has a cold.
The family escapes to about as far away as they can from the Dark Cloud—to the Extraordinary World! A place everyone says does not exist. On their way, Oliver, a child Gracie’s age, who has lost his family at the hands of sasquatches, is invited along for the ride in the Winnebago.
Adventure ensues! Gracie keeps us updated on all that’s happening through the writings in her diary. I enjoyed the diary aspect, very much. As a kid who kept several, I could relate. Especially the parts where she’s worried who will read it. Three cheers, to the coolest grandmother ever. When Gracie’s family and Oliver, swing by to visit, she points them in the direction of the Extraordinary World. Confirming the suspicion of Gracie’s father, while no one in the family believed him. Lost in equations, and the scientific process, the Extraordinary World could just be another hypothesis. The Lockwood family set out to find it, hoping to leave the Dark Cloud behind. After much hijinks and scary near misses, this story wraps into to a delightful and surprising discovery. Await the chill bumps!
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