WHEN THE WORLD FALLS DOWN by Jon Bolitho-Jones.
Matador. p/b. £8.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
That morning was the funeral of Bethany Hannah Morgan’s best friend. Her only friend actually, who had often joined her on imaginary adventures, and who she now greatly misses. She tries to fall asleep that night. Sleep does not come easily, but eventually she does sleep. That is until some kind of monster comes charging through her bedroom leaving a terrible mess, speckles of blood and a curious Bethany trailing behind.
By the time she reaches the monster she encounters a sight so strange she runs away, straight back home and under her bed covers. When she awakes the next morning though, Bethany discovers it was not a dream. The house is still an unexplained mess, as her parents’ shouting testifies, and in the forest near her house is a hungry troll pirate called Grollp, who will soon become Bethany’s new best friend. Grollp is determined to save his world, Edimor, and much as he enjoys Bethany’s picnics, it will soon be time for him to leave.
When the World Falls Down, as the narrator tells us at the end, is the first book in a series. Itfollows what we now know is the beginning of Bethany’s adventures from losing her best friend and meeting the troll pirate to working out how to travel through her cupboard and entering another world. The book comes under the ‘juvenile fiction’ Matador imprint and it does certainly feel directed at a youthful audience, with the dangerous moments of the narrative very much skimmed over and a continuous feeling of ‘it will all be ok in the end, don’t worry’ reassuring us.
The story stems from Bethany’s bereavement and touches on that theme throughout, of reaction and recovery and discovery in the aftermath of a loss, but again this is done with a very light touch and geared towards a young reader. We do see what Bethany’s reactions to loss and find reassurance in those reactions being acceptable and understandable, but nothing is dwelt upon in any depth.
The very first line tells the reader that they are “about to go on an adventure” and so they do. These adventures cover a lot of ground, the pace moving quite happily along throughout, and she encounters a plethora of creatures and hazards as she goes. For an innocent read packed with a young heroine, trolls and goblins, wizards, pirates, space travel and a world in peril, this delivers exactly that.