Requested Review: Evie and the Upside-Down World of Nevermore by Birgitte Märgen

“I was learning, in this strange place—things were rarely what they seemed to be.”

Notice: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the work.

After falling into a dark hole when she was running through the forest, Evie finds herself trapped in a strange new world that mirrors our own. Her only guide is a compass stick given to her by an angry gnome who lives in an ancient knobby tree. As she travels through the lands of this upside-down world she happens upon creatures that are twisted versions of fairytale folklore. A place where fairies bite, unicorns charge, mermaids are menacing, and nightmares are more than dreams. A world where the souls of those who could not follow the unspoken rules are trapped forever.

As a southern girl born on the wrong side of the tracks, Evie relies on the wisdom passed down by her grandpappy and the haunting memories of her mama to teach her perseverance of the soul. She learns that things are rarely what they seem as her world is turned upside down.

If you’re looking for a book with a twisted and capricious plot line, this is the book for you.

Evie and the Upside-Down World of Nevermore was 200 pages of a wild ride that appeals to the imagination. It begins with Evie overhearing her two friends gossiping about her behind her back while camping. Upset, Evie takes off running from their campsite to get away and in her hasty departure, she finds herself falling into the world of Nevermore.

This book incorporates bits and pieces from many classical childhood fairy tales. Needless to say, it is modeled after the premise of Alice and Wonderland, but it also incorporates elements of Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, and more.

What I liked most about this book was the “upside-down” approach to the fantastical creatures it had. For example, there’s a rather unfriendly unicorn, swarms of fairies that are actually biting mosquitoes, a giant that is afraid of humans, and more. I also appreciated the personification of so many rather mundane things in life, like trees that steal clothes, boulders that are actually trolls, etc.

The absurdity of some of the encounters that Evie has throughout the book is comical and ever-growing in ridiculousness. However, these moments are also balanced out by moments of growth from Evie, who begins the book in a dark, self-deprecating place. However, through experiencing her trials and tribulations in the Upside-Down World, she’s in a better place by the end of the book.

“There were so many times I’d thought of giving up on life, but now I was ready to fight to stay alive.”

Though these elements are never discussed in great detail, there are also conversations to be had about self-harm, depression, socio-economic status, and absent parents in this book.

Although I enjoyed journeying with Evie across multiple lands and encountering absurd creatures, it did become rather dull by the end of the book. Even though the book is just under 200 pages already, it was difficult to stay invested in a story that kept getting more and more nonsensical. By page 160, I was ready for Evie to get back to the real world and the journey to be over, especially since it feels like the “plot” of the book was mostly just Evie having yet another near-death experience.

There’s also no meaningful character interactions in this book. After entering Nevermore, the book is essentially a monologue of Evie’s internal strategizing of how to get home. I think this book would have been appreciably more engaging if our main character had conversations with some of the creatures along the way that would point her in a new direction. It was very disappointing to spend the better half of 200 pages in her head.

In all, I loved reading about the creatures and worlds within Nevermore, and the adventure that this story undoubtedly holds. However, I wish there was more attention given to diversifying storytelling techniques, instead of just placing the readers in Evie’s head. If you are into twisted re-tellings, I’d recommend giving this book a read!

Thank you again to Birgitte Märgen for the e-copy! If you’ve read this book, let me know what you thought!

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