Out this March, 'The Nowhere Thief' is a totally absorbing and mind-bending adventure through the multiverses. With an exciting, trending concept and vivid 'worlds-building', this is an ambitious and enjoyable debut from Alice M. Ross.
Twelve-year-old Elsbeth has an extraordinary power: she can travel to parallel worlds and bring objects back with her. But as freak weather events become more frequent and a strange boy, Idris, starts to turn up everywhere she travels, she has to ask herself: does her gift come with a price?
'The Nowhere Thief' fits perfectly into recent pop culture exploring parallel worlds. Think 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' or 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'. In terms of children's books, comparisons can be made to Christopher Edge's mind-bending fiction and L.D Lapinski's 'Strange Worlds Travel Agency'. However, Alice M. Ross offers her own unique take on the multiverses - I loved how in order to travel to a parallel world the main character Elsbeth must enter a Nowhere space first and feel her way through a shifting kaleidoscopic sphere. I think it's really clever that there are also consequences for entering each world and also how the worlds are classified in terms of their danger. Some worlds are very similar and others are very different - Alice M. Ross's imagination is equally kaleidoscopic! It feels that, as a reader, we are just on the cusp of learning even more about the multiverses and also how it all came into being, and how Elsbeth and Idris came into their abilities.
In addition to the grand scope of the storytelling, Alice M.Ross also brings charming moments of subtlety. I felt there were nods to the 'Magician's Nephew' when Elsbeth makes a friend in the attic of another world. The interaction between Elsbeth and Idris or Elsbeth and her mum has moments of real warmth. It's the little details - photos, small items from worlds - that anchor the scale and the ambition in the bittersweet and the charm of the ordinary.
It would be great to see how this all expands in a sequel. Alice M. Ross is a daring, exciting new voice with an imagination that knows no bounds.
Thank you to Nosy Crow for sending a proof copy to review.