A girl embarks on a journey through a magical maze in Butler’s children’s fantasy debut.
Eight-year-old Chloe Rose lives in Wilmoton with her mother, Catherine, and father, Michael, an army captain who frequently leaves home due to the town’s conflict with the neighboring village of Cottondale. Chloe’s best friend is Thyra Andrews, whose father, Albert, serves in the army with Michael, and tragedy strikes when both men die in battle. Nearly a year later, Chloe’s mother marries King Francis II, and Chloe becomes the stepsister to the king’s daughter, Matilda. The girls don’t get along, and Chloe goes to stay with her grandmother Ethel, who tells her about Ellotosa’s Maze, a “connection to another world” that grants children who complete the maze their deepest wish. Intrigued, Chloe decides to visit the Ellotosa’s Maze and asks Thyra to join her. Along the way, they meet Edith Caswell, who believes she lost her parents and brother in a storm, and with her companions, Chloe Rose completes the challenges that are supposed to allow her to achieve her wish: to spend “one last day” with her father. However, danger lurks in the maze, and the girls discover that the fairy Asotolle has her own plans for them. Chloe Rose is a winsome heroine, and her adventures in the maze are well done: They introduce fantastic characters, including the Librarian, a specter composed of all the letters in every known human language. The novel also brims with ideas, though editing missteps make some of the text confusing. For example, when discussing the characters Ms. Makkine and Ms. Lupton, Butler writes, “the children fell under their responsibility when all the house heads had caste lots.” Such lapses aside, this is an appealing story that takes the characters on a quest that reveals the power of friendship.
An amiable fantasy for children that needed stronger editing.