First-novelist West begins the Books of Elsewhere series with an old house and a curious girl. Eleven-year-old Olive had been living with her nerdy mathematician parents in a series of nondescript apartments, and the whole family is happy to move into a Victorian house, complete with furniture, that's for sale at a comfortable price. Once ensconced, Mr. and Mrs. Dunwoody become as obsessed with their math as ever, leaving Olive to her own devices. The devices, as it turns out, are odd paintings and a pair of glasses that allow her to venture inside the art to Elsewhere. And though they may not qualify as devices, there are several talking cats wandering about as well. The plot, as well as the character of Olive, will seem familiar to readers of light fantasy, but West does put her own nice spin on things. Most fun are the talking cats-Horatio, Leopold, and Harvey-whose commentary keeps things fresh. By book's end, Olive has made some inroads into the mysteries of her new home, but it's a very large house. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Recommended by Robert Stoddard