James Fisher, a lonely, bullied schoolboy, finds himself in the dark and twisted land of Escher after wishing himself away from an ill-fated family holiday.
Lost and frightened, James must help heal the dying world of Escher, overrun by the creatures of the Nightmare forest, to return home. Guided by the emerald-eyed cat, Sam, and befriended by the headstrong resistance fighter, Jasper, James is taken on an adventure through a world mirroring his own nightmares, where he is forced to confront his own fears and the ghostly Shadow in order to save Escher.
Unbeknown to James, not only is he fighting for Escher’s future, but also his own.
Born and raised in Hampshire, I spent most of my childhood dreaming up random adventures.
I left the sunny south coast to study Graphic Communication in Bath, where I fell in love with the rolling Somerset hills when I wasn’t walking up them.
Returning to Hampshire 6 years later, after meeting my now wife, Claire, I enjoy a quieter life, walking in the New Forest and relaxing with my wonderful wife and fluffy cat Molly.
I have always enjoyed telling stories, more often than not in visual form, either in films or animations. However, the idea of Escher was too big for me to do visually by myself so I picked up a pen and started writing.
Having written one novel, I am now keen to tell more stories of Escher, while at the same time expressing my imagination with my art.
To say it had a few flaws was an understatement, as half its legs never went in the same direction, which was why it had ended up crashing into a tree, causing the explosion James had witnessed. As it turned out, Hattie was not a great inventor, but James had never met anyone so enthusiastic. She went on and on about all the things she had created; from the self-cleaning flowerpot to the automated tooth brush system, which seemed to be working ‘great’ as James noticed the mole’s missing teeth.
The Heart of Escher is classified as science fiction and fantasy; however, it can be argued that it is middle grade or young adult psychological as well. The author, Dance, proves time and time again that this new world that James travels too is a reflection of the way that he sees his life. As a young boy, he is not very optimistic because he gets picked on and bullied in school, but then his brother doesn’t have his back either. It is a very sad and desolate outlook that is perceived on life and school, so much so that he has thought about what it would be like to not be there.
This book begins with James’ last day of school before a family holiday. He is frightened to go to school because of what happened the previous year, egg beating and bullying. He knows that he doesn’t have the strength to stand up to them, but if he doesn’t…that means that no one will and it will happen to him again. After that horrific day, his mom and dad have planned a summer holiday where James and his brother, Edward, fight on the ferry and then in the car ride. His relationship with his brother is very rocky and he makes a wish to be anywhere other than right there, in that car going on holiday.
As they ride through a tunnel, James realizes that everything has gone dark. Suddenly, he is not in the car and the world is very gray. He looks around, only to discover that he can’t find his mom, dad, brother or younger sister anywhere. The trees are mysteriously tall and dark and there are monsters making hideous sounds. He got his wish…not only is he alone, but he may be in danger too. As the story progresses, James finds that he really misses home and the comforts of his family, but it may already be too late. This adventure that has begun may not allow him to go back to his world…
“Know this, Gardener; the Shadow will see who you really are,” Eli cried. “if there is darkness in your heart it will take you, and my spirit will finally be allowed to rest.” Alone and with the cold growing ever colder, James knew it was time. He could still end it now and let the darkness take him, but that would mean he had given up. Without giving it any more thought, he jumped.
Dance has a very powerful and motivating middle grade fantasy novel with The Heart of Escher. This is an amazing adventure, one with superb character development, world-building, and originality. The story flows easily, making it a fast read. There are a few grammatical errors throughout, but this was an advanced reader copy that was received; therefore, these may have been cleaned up before publication. If not, this should not hinder the reader’s enjoyment of the novel. If you are a reader of middle grade, science fiction, or fantasy, you may enjoy this read.
A copy of this book was provided to Turning Another Page by Loving the Book, but this is no way affects our honest opinion of the book or the review that has been written. We provide a five-star rating for The Heart of Escher by Jonathan Dance.
Desperately, Jasper tried to free him. “I am sorry, James, I can’t move you.”
“You go,” James said despondently. He doesn’t really care, why should he stay here and die with me?
“I am not going to leave you,” Jasper replied, to James’ surprise. Jasper placed his paw on James’ hand.
James wanted to cry but he couldn’t, it was too cold. With Jasper frozen in place beside him, the world slowed down, as still unfrozen prisoners and Narlac moved between their frozen and fallen brethren.
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