Author: Garry Kilworth
Publisher: Little, Brown
Genre: Juv/YA Fantasy
Call number: JPB Kilworth
Just like valuable antiques or meaningful mementos found buried amid junk in your attic, Attica is a rare treasure in an unassuming package, the kind you pick up without expectations and are blown away by. Seriously, I love this book.
Step-siblings Jordy, Chloe, and Alex move into a duplex they share with their crotchety landlord. He sends them into the attic in search of a lost pocket watch – one that means a lot to him – and that’s where the adventure begins. One moment they are in their normal attic, searching through piles of dusty junk, but as they move further into the space, they begin to notice strange things. No matter how long they walk, the attic never ends. The walls to either side are no longer visible. Worse, they begin to feel that they are being followed. Soon, they are stumbling across villages of wardrobes and washtubs inhabited by strange, pale people who grow their own food with hydroponics, and they traverse all manner of terrain, including forests of coat racks, hills of typewriters, plains of empty floor boards, and a lake that is the largest water tank ever. They also run into all manner of creatures. Some are humans who abandoned their normal lives for the lure of Attica and became bortrekkers, adventurers and explorers, or board combers, treasure hunters who are obsessed with collecting one particular item. Some creatures are man-made objects that, after being mistreated by humans in the normal world, have developed malevolent personalities, like the mannequins who dress up their human prey in humiliating garments and mock them before killing them. Their search for the pocket watch becomes a search for the way home, but by the time they find it, one of them may not want to return.
I love how the kids adapt quickly to this whole other world, because there’s nothing gained by refusing to accept what’s right in front of you, especially when that will get you killed; the book would be tremendously boring if they spent the first 50 pages keening piteously about their fate. I was impressed by the sheer originality of the setting and the realistic family dynamics between the three kids. Each one has different temperaments and interests and each reacts and adapts to Attica in their own way, learning necessary skills that they can share with the others. Alex’s development in particular was well-done; he’s always felt like an outsider, but in Attica, he’s happy: he learns to rely on himself, and he feels like he belongs, so much so that he almost becomes first a board comber, then a bortrekker. I also found the pacing quite fast – I raced right through the book, eager to see what weird thing they were going to come upon next and what was going to happen.
This book is definitely a winner for teens from jr. high to high school.