Keeper of the realms: Crow's Revenge by Marcus Alexander

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Penguin, 2011. ISBN 9780141339771.
(Ages 13+) Charlie Keeper is a 13 year old girl, living with her senile grandmother in her strange family home in London. Her parents have been missing for nearly 7 years, and her guardian, the cruel lawyer Mr Crow, takes advantage of her grandmother's confused state and Charlie's own lack of power to mistreat her and embezzle the family funds. One day while exploring her odd house (it appears larger on the inside), she comes across Jensen who is a Treman from Bellania, a world that exists on an alternate plane to the earth, but is accessible via a portal in her house. He disappears through a door, but Charlie is unable to follow him.
When the mysterious and evil Bane enters the house and threatens Crow with terrible consequences if he does not help him acquire the pendant that Charlie wears, a mad chase through the house ensues, which sees Charlie transported through the portal into Bellania. There the real adventure begins as she races against time to save her parents, free Bellania from Bane's malevolent grip, and awaken her Keeper powers.
When the blurb on the back of a book compares it to The Wizard of Oz, The Narnia Chronicles, Lemony Snickett and JK Rowling, it has a lot to live up to. Whilst the premise is appealing, and I really wanted to like this book, to me it doesn't deliver on its potential. It has none of the real freshness or sparkle of these books, but is rather derivative, clumsy and laboured. In its favour, it is good to have a young female protagonist as the hero in this genre, there are some interesting characters and narrow escapes, and I'm sure that most younger readers will enjoy Charlie's antics and adventures. Whilst I found Charlies temper tantrums and foot stamping aggravating, to be fair she is confronted with many dreadful situations and is increasingly worried about the fate of her Gran back in London as well her missing parents.
It is not giving away anything to say that this book ends with a cliff hanger - it is the first of a projected three book series - however, it failed to capture my imagination or leave me wanting more.
Alicia Papp