Here is another winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novella. It is a portal fantasy where children return from their world to parents frantic about their missing children. When the kids tell mom and dad about where they have been, the parents naturally think them traumatized by whatever experience they actually had. In their pursuit of help, they come across a woman running a school for just such children. What they don’t know is that the headmistress was herself a child who traveled to another world and understands that the children are telling the truth.
The story follows one girl as she arrives at the school desperate to get back to her other world. As she starts to settle in, terrible things begin to happen. The children help the headmistress to figure out what is going on. We learn what is going on as the children do.
This book is both dark and funny. It deals with issues of adolescence and sex and gender in sympathetic ways while still feeling true to how children treat and relate to each other. I found the ending rather abrupt but otherwise thoroughly enjoyed the book.
My rating: 4.5/5