A case for reading things in order

Still Life: The Book of Elsewhere Vol 5 Jacqueline West

Normally, I don’t mind so much just picking up a book at random and just going with it. But this series was too good for that. Of course, it’s a little late now, because once I’d started it it was too good to not finish it. So I wrecked it for myself. And am therefore also going to wrecked for everyone else by talking about it.

Olivia lives in an old house with her two, absent minded, math obsessed parents, three magical talking cats and a street full of magical neighbours. But that’s not even the most interesting part of her life. The house used to be owned by Aldous McMartin, an evil wizard who can trap people and things in Elsewhere, a painted world that he has created. Aldous painted himself into a portrait but now has been freed and wants Olivia and her friends out of his house. Most of this has already been established by the time we get to the start of the fifth book and most of it is devoted to the final mystery of Aldous and getting rid of him once and for all.

This story was great. For many, many reasons. And there wasn’t a single character I didn’t love. How often does that happen?

Olivia is a pretty standard heroine, with lots of good virtues like selflessness and bravery and what have you but likable and fallible none the less. The three talking cats are my absolute favourites from Horatio who is the Dumbledoreish mentor figure (That’s right, Olivia gets mentored by a cat) to Leopold the ever loyal soldier, to Harvey the enthusiastic play acting, literature loving trouble maker. They are all charming, and hilarious. The other paintings, mainly Morton and his family are adorable, and West does a lovely job of writing a genuine young child’s voice without making him whiny. Rutherford and Walter make great contrasting sidekicks, and Mrs Dewey and Mr and Mrs Dunwoody, who mostly appear in the background, are just wonderful. It’s also unusual and fun to have a child who’s not an orphan leading the charge.

Aldous as a villain does a great job of making the whole book seem threatening and scary, and despite not appearing to the very end, his presence is felt throughout the story.

I wish I’d read this series in order, because it was just so fun and well written and filled with awesome characters that I’d been able to go through the story with, the way it was meant to be told. But it’s my own fault of course, I can accept that.

It would make a really good 5 season cartoon. Someone should get on that.

Last movie I watched:

Tangled! So sweet, I forgot how lovely that movie is.

Last TV episode I watched:

Xena. I don’t know why they keep introducing so many men for Xena and Gabrielle. It’s obvious they are each others soul mates.


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