Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Shimmer Audio

Shimmer Audio

Alyson Noel
For ages 10 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Kathleen McInerney
Macmillan Young Listeners, 2011   ISBN: 978-1427212504

Riley may be novice when it comes to being dead, but she and her guide Bodhi did very well when they managed to get Radiant Boy, a very unpleasant ghostly person, to give up haunting a castle and cross the bridge to the Here & Now. She, Bodhi, and her dog Buttercup are on the island of St. John, in the Caribbean, having a well-earned vacation. Riley is walking along the beach with Buttercup when an enormous terrifying looking black dog runs at her. She knows she is dead and that the dog cannot really harm her, but the creature still freaks her out. A lot.

Bodhi then arrives on the scene to explain that the dog is a hell hound, an angry phantom dog. Though Bodhi tells Riley that she has not business getting involved with the dog, Riley decides to use her “free will,” and she sets off to the find the dog so that she can help it to cross over.

What Riley finds is that the dog is only one of many miserable souls that a young girl spirit called Rebecca has trapped in a “bubble.” Rebecca was killed by slaves who revolted in the 1700’s when they were ill used by a Rebecca’s father, a plantation owner. Full of hatred and wanting to be avenged on those who killed her, Rebecca has fed the anger of the dead slaves who worked on the plantation, thus preventing them from leaving her bubble and crossing over.

After Bodhi and Buttercup are captured and held captive in Rebecca’s bubble, Riley has no choice but to try to find a way to get Rebecca to let her prisoners go. All of them. Through her own experience, Riley discovers that the only way to free oneself from the bubble is to let go of feelings of resentments, anger, and guilt, and to replace them with forgiveness and peace. Somehow, Riley has to get Bodhi, Buttercup, Rebecca’s unwilling captives, and Rebecca herself to freely release their anger and fear. Only then will they be able to move on to the Hear & Now.

This second Riley Bloom novel continues where the first book left off. Listeners will not only experience a gripping story, but the author also explores the idea that a person can never be at peace if he or she holds onto anger, regrets, and self reproach. Listeners will find out more about Riley and Bodhi’s pre-death lives, and appreciate that even young tweens and teens can carry heavy burdens that cause them emotional pain.

Kathleen Mcinerney perfectly captures Riley’s singular personality, helping readers to understand her fears and her decidedly undisciplined attitude.