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White Space: Book One of The Dark Passages

White Space: Book One of The Dark Passages

3.2 11
by Ilsa J. Bick

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In the tradition of Memento and Inception comes a thrilling and scary young adult novel about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a


In the tradition of Memento and Inception comes a thrilling and scary young adult novel about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it's as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she's real.

Then she writes "White Space," a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard.

Unfortunately, "White Space" turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she's never seen, is a loopy Matrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. Thing is, when Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she's dropped into the very story she thought she'd written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they--and Emma--may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose.

Now what they must uncover is why they've been brought to this place--a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written--before someone pens their end.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bick (the Ashes trilogy) launches the Dark Passages series with this ambitious meta-textual adventure, which invokes Stephen King levels of psychological and physical horror, while defying readers’ perceptions of reality at every turn. After a car accident, Emma Lindsay is inexplicably trapped in a valley with a handful of other teenagers, unable to escape the pervasive fog and the monsters hidden within. As Emma and her companions attempt to escape, they’re thrust into a series of shifting realities based on the works of a deceased author, where no one and nothing are as they seem. Faced with unsettling revelations and disturbing questions, they must fight for their lives and determine what’s real and what’s fiction. Though the story starts off slowly, and the often-shifting perspective makes it hard to empathize with many characters, things pick up considerably once the heroes start unraveling the underlying mystery. While Bick does an excellent job at conveying tension, atmosphere, and the multi-layered premise, the epic length, frequent character-hopping, and convoluted action detract from an otherwise intriguing tale. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—One of the marks of a classic horror story is the slow and insidious shifting of the rules within the tale's universe. Bick understands the power of this trope and uses it relentlessly in this sophisticated horror novel for older teens. A brilliant five-year-old watches her novelist father call horrors from a powerful mirror. A high school junior with static-filled gaps in her memory pens a horror tale, one that had already been written decades ago. A psychically gifted girl accepts a ride from a troubled but sweet boy. A marine and his younger brother head out on snowmobiles after accidentally killing their abusive father. Fleeing their separate nightmares, the cast assembles in a fog-bound, snow-filled valley from which there seems to be no escape. Lovecraft-inspired monsters inflict gruesome deaths and time and space are unreliable in this mind-bending narrative. Slowly, it's revealed that no one is quite who they thought they were, and the boundaries of this universe are definitely falling apart. Continuous references to fictional time and space travelers (The Matrix's Neo, A Wrinkle in Time's Meg Murray) add intricacy, leading characters to wonder if they themselves are made up. Bick is a master of the genre, balancing tension, terror, and tedium through repetition and fractured storytelling. White Space is filled with echoes of other horror stories, but the author manages to hold on to her own narrative voice, playing on readers' expectations through a series of reveals, some just predictable enough to inspire a false sense of security. The first of a series, it also can stand alone.—Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
When what's real keeps shifting in monstrous ways, can Emma find her way home? Can she even hold on to sanity and self? With a head full of metal that causes migraines and occasional blackouts, 17-year-old Emma makes the best of her life at Holten Prep until one of her teachers accuses her of plagiarizing a dead writer's unfinished and inaccessible manuscript. Taking off on a trip with her friend Lily, Emma gets caught in a freak snowstorm, and she finds her survival, her fate and even her past entwined with those of seven strangers. Reality keeps shifting, and motifs keep repeating, and everything is tied to dead horror author Frank McDermott and the bizarre and bloody way he wrote his stories. Can Emma and her companions escape the monster he released? Bick's doorstopper mixes provocative ideas from Inkheart and the movies The Matrix and Inception with a little Charles Dickens, but it doesn't give readers much in the way of character or plot to hang onto through huge swaths of the tale. Quick cuts between short chapters with cliffhanger endings attempt to keep pages turning; instead, they offer ample opportunity to put this overlong and often confusing first of another gargantuan trilogy down and move on to something more immediately engaging and sustained. Fans who can forgive the downer ending can look forward to a historical-thriller sequel shortly (or longly, as the case will surely be). (Horror. 14 & up)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
The Dark Passages
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
HL770L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Ilsa J. Bick is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of The Ashes Trilogy (Ashes, Shadows, Monsters), Draw the Dark, Drowning Instinct, and The Sin-Eater's Confession. Visit her online at www.ilsajbick.com or adr3nalin3.blogspot.com and followe her on Facebook and Twitter @ilsajbick.

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White Space 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Egmont USA and Edelweisss.) Lizzie lives in a world where things from the imagination can be pulled through the ‘Dark Passages’ (no I don’t know what that means), and into/onto the ‘White Space’ (Could be paper, but could be something else – again I’m not sure). Lizzie’s father uses the Dark Passages when writing his books, and without Lizzie’s parents knowledge, Lizzie does too. Emma is in a car with her friend Lily. She suffers from ‘blinks’ where she is transported to another world at times. Emma has a ‘blink’ whilst driving, and then a blizzard causes her to crash. Emma is saved from the wreck of her van by a man named Eric, and his brother Casey, and then things really start getting weird. So I’ve read this whole book, it’s taken me the best part of 10 hours, and I’m still not really sure what the hell was going on at all. This book was just bizarre; all the way through I was wondering what the hell was going on, and whether I was actually supposed to know what the hell was going on. This book was just jumbled. There were parts from multiple different points of view, and they were all kind-of flung in there together, and it was so difficult to work out what was happening to who, and how that correlated with what was happening to other people. We had this storyline about the white space and dark passages, but then we also had a story about a girl being run off the road in a blizzard, and it was very difficult to understand how these two stories went together. To top this all off, we had really bizarre things going on, and things that really belonged in a horror story – spooky things, creepy things, murder, blood, monsters etc. This book reminded me of several books – between the lines – where characters in a book are really alive, the shining – because of the blood and monsters and stuff, and a book called burn bright – because this was kind-of trippy in places, and hard to know what was actually happening. It’s really difficult to rate this book, because while I did enjoy it somewhat, and I made it through all 560 pages, it is still really difficult to know what the hell was going on, and what really happened, and who was even really real?! I mean, the whole thing was just so weird, and made so little sense, that I really still don’t even know what it’s about, which is just ridiculous after having read 560 pages. The ending was then more of the same – weird, jumbled, unexplained, and I am still not sure what happened to be honest. I’m really not sure if I want to read any more books in this series, because I’m really beginning to think that this story will never be explained, which is seriously annoying. Overall; weird, jumbled, strange, difficult to follow, and downright bizarre. 6 out of 10.
AliceGrace More than 1 year ago
I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review.¿ First of all, I would like you all to bear in mind that I only made it 50 pages into this one. I would also like you to remember that I didn't DNF it because it was horrible or because there was something completely awful about it. I DNF'd it because I was so freakin' confused. This one just isn't for me. From the moment the novel began, I felt as if I had been plopped in the middle of a story where all of the characters kept using weird terms and refused to explain anything. I understood what was going on but I didn't all at once. Honestly, if I could force myself to power-through the confusion, I'm pretty positive I would really like White Space. But I just can't. I didn't have the will-power to keep going. I don't even want to think about how long it took the author to create this effect or how long it took to build this novel. I feel like this was all deliberate. I don't even know. I mean, what I read was well-written. Emma was confused and things were fragmented for her. Therefore, I felt like things were fragmented and I was even more confused than Emma. I feel like the confusion would have been cut down a bit if Emma had told us what she did know, but she didn't always do that. But Miss Bick did a good job putting me in Emma's shoes. The concept is interesting and things are pretty creepy just from what I read. I just couldn't do it. I just wasn't strong enough. I wish I was.
Shawscribbles More than 1 year ago
I loved the start of this book. For the first half of the novel I was completely hooked. Bick’s writing reminded me very much of early Stephen King (which I love). I kept tell everyone to read this novel! But then, also in the King tradition, I got a bit bored with the story. It just seemed to go on for soooo long. I think for me the pacing was just off a bit. As the first book in a series, there was also no resolution for me as the reader. I was left feeling frustrated rather than anticipating Book 2. So although the main characters are well developed, there were too many loose strings left in this book and the pacing crumbled for me halfway through the story.
Amber_Elise More than 1 year ago
Although I have NO idea what was happening, this book sure did deliver on the scares!  Plot: When I picked up White Space, I had no idea what it was about. I still don't but we won't talk about that right now. The book opens up with Emma who has a head full of metal from a terrible accident involving her druggie father and her body bouncing off a wall. She thinks that all of the metal is responsible for her "blinks" - periods of time where she mentally blacks out and hallucinates. On a snowy road in Wisconsin, she meets a cast of characters who are all connected to her in some way, the fun starts when people start dying though. :) White Spaces is an extremely complex novel, I don't even know where I would start explaining - without spoiling it! Just when I started to understand something, I questioned if I actually understood what was happening and then just get a headache trying to wrap my head around it. I had to go to bed after I read the cliffhanger, I just...couldn't think anymore. While I know it sounds like I'm being really negative about this book, I don't mean to be. One of the strongest points of this novel is that Bick doesn't hold any punches in her horror scenes. They were spooky and creepy, just the way I liked it! I probably would have loved this novel if it were a simple "seven-kids-in-a-spooky-haunted-house" story but...it's not.  Characters: Each chapter is told through the eyes of other characters which can be a little confusing at times. There were times where I had to go back to the beginning of the chapter to figure out whose narration I was following. Even though the book follows many characters, I think it's safe to say that Emma is our main character. I don't really know much about Emma, I found some of the other characters a bit more interesting. Rima particularly held my interest only because she had also powers.  One of my biggest issues with the novel is the lack of emotion. Early on in the book, a character dies and everyone's reaction is basically "WELP." ...no. That's not the proper response to seeing someone die before you! Scream or cry or SOMETHING.  World Building: Bick writes horror very well, and I this is why I was able to picture myself in any scene. She did an amazing job depicting the landscape and making it feel so...isolated and wonder what was behind every door.  Short N Sweet: Confusing as all hell but the horror element was spot on!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book definatey got a 5 in scare factor in the first couple pages. But then in the middle it dies out, and comes back and so on. There is a confusing layout of which character is speaking. This is a main problem because I loved this book. Great however but needs some tweeking :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was vary confusing, and a lot of emotions in the book. It was so good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How wonderfully thought out! It does take a bit of concentration at first but then, just like the books in here, you get sucked in! I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Confusing at first but it all pulls together about half way through. White Space is so original and a great read, if you like horror, suspense, and a great stoy line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Five stars. Like I said before
AudiobookReviewer More than 1 year ago
First let me say that I really really wanted to like this audiobook but Bick failed to capture my attention, I do not have a good reason why, just wasn't for me. Getting to the basics of the story, I think the premise and the idea was a great starting point, I just needed so much more. Essentially White Space is about a girl named Emma who "blinks" or her consciousness instantaneously travels to the consciousness of someone else. One of the other someone elses is Lizze the daughter of a man that as become addicted to the use of dark passages, gateways to alternate dimensions, and bringing things back with him. He then places these things in whites spaces. This is not a good thing at all. Confused yet? I sure was. Then we have a plethora of different characters, for each main protagonist to keep track of. The point of view kept switching and I found it difficult to remember where or who I was and what was supposed to be happening. I really think that White Space has a great and imaginative idea behind it, there was just too much happening and switching up characters for me to be able to keep track without writing it all down. At the end I felt exhausted and possibly more confused than before I started. However, this will be right up someones alley and bring them much entertainment and enjoyment, just not me. I would have needed everything to been dumbed down a bit and maybe split into two books, just speculating. Audiobook provided for review by Audible. Please find this complete review and many others at audiobookreviewer dot com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago