Twelve-year-old Josephine Russing lives alone with her father. Mr. Russing is a distant, cold man best known for his insistence that every member of their town wear gloves at all times, just as he does--even at home--and just as he forces his daughter to do as well. Then one day Josephine meets a boy named Fargus. But when she tries to follow him, he mysteriously disappears and Josephine finds herself in another world called Gulm. Gulm is ruled by the "Master," a terrifying villain who has taken all the children of Gulm. With Fargus by her side, and joined by Fargus's friend Ida, Josephine must try to find her way home. As the trio attempt to evade the Master, they encounter numerous adventures and discover the surprising truth about the land of Gulm, and Josephine's own life back home.
With a quirky and charming style that should draw in readers from the outset, Cohagan's debut is a gently creepy, captivating fantasy about loss, determination, and hope. Josephine is 12 years old and desperately lonely. One day, a mysterious boy, Fargus, appears at her house, mute and hungry. Fargus has been fascinated with Josephine ever since he found the "crack" between their worlds, but he never expected her to accidentally follow him back to the land of Gulm, ruled by the evil "Master," where children are taken from their families and fear has hold of the townspeople. Fargus and his friend Ida escape with Josephine to avoid becoming the Master's next victims. When Josephine is separated from her friends and they are taken captive, she must determine her connection to the Master and confront him to rescue them. There are some brutal moments (Ida's parents are murdered in cold blood), but the atmosphere of peril is generally light and the puzzle of what happened to the missing children is managed well, without being too disturbing to the intended audience. Ages 8 12.