The Way to Impossible Island, by Sophie Kirtley

A few weeks ago, I read The Wild Way Home, by Sophie Kirtley, for Timeslip Tuesday, and enjoyed it very much.  Happily, when I was over in Ireland book shopping, I bought her second time travel book too–The Way to Impossible Island (Bloomsbury, July 2021 in the UK), which I enjoyed even more!  It is a continuation of the first story, though not a sequel–the point of view characters have changed. 

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Mothgirl and Dara, the younger siblings of the main characters from book 1.  Both Irish kids (10/11 year old) but she lives in the Neolithic period, and he in the modern.  Both are stuck in tough places.

Mothgirl’s older brother went of on a long journey and hasn’t come back, and her father is getting old; with two little kids to feed as well, things are anxious.  And now Vulture, the leader of a horrible neighboring clan, wants to buy Mothgirl from her father to be trained up to be his son’s wife.  When her father agrees to the deal, Mothgirl runs with her pet wolf into the night.  

Dara was born with a serious heart condition, and this summer he’s finally going have the Big Operation that he things will make everything normal.  For instance, he’ll row himself out to Lathrin Island, the focus of his dreams of independent adventuring, with no worrying, hovering parents.  When the operation is postponed, he becomes so fed up with it all that he decides to go off an visit the island anyway, and heads down to the beach in the middle of the night.

And  time slips open, and Mothgirl and her wolf are hiding in the boat shed when Dara opens the door.  

Together they make the journey to the island, and almost drown in the wild and dangerous channel.  Together on the island they find shelter, climb to safety, and share knowledge with each other.  And then, no longer together, they return to their homes with greater confidence and surety, more ready for what the future might bring.

It is a lovely story.  There are:

–entertaining and thought-provoking details of cross-temporal communication and misunderstanding 

–exciting dangerous bits 

–a horribly moving bit when the wolf is presumed to have drowned, and Mothgirl forces herself to say goodbye and free his spirit (I’ll put in a spoiler here–the dear, loveable wolf friend has not drowned).

–magical bits, including stories tied to places and people 

–and then finally the heartwarming-ness of both kids realizing that they don’t need to worry about being “normal” and fitting in to customary ways of being in the world, and that being “big and strong” isn’t necessary in order to succeed.  In the end, they are more firmly their own unique (loveable) selves, but they’ve learned that the journey is better with other people helping and being helped.  

–and even more finally that little kick of emotion at the end of a really good time travel book, when the characters are each in their own time again, never to meet again….

It’s almost three hundred pages, but it took me only about an hour and a half to read it because it was So Good.  

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