The Game of Sunken Places by M.T. Anderson

Gregory and Brian arrive at their Uncle Max's house for what will admittedly be a strange fall vacation. True to form, eccentric Uncle Max lives in a giant mansion where he immediately burns the boys' clothes and forces them to wear clothes the turn-of-the-century. The 20th century. They sleep in a nursery where they find a strange fame called the The Game of Sunken Places. But Jumanji this game is not. There are no dice or pieces just an hourglass that is slowly counting down--but to what? The boys are in a race against time, bu they don't know the rules and this game is deadly.

This books is full of wonderful descriptive elements that really bring this world to life. You can feel the crisp fall New England air and whenever the wind blows, there is a creepiness that will crawl up under the covers with you. Yet, for all the brilliant descriptions, it reminded me of a movie where the editing is slightly off. The scenes jump, with only a sentence to bridge where they are going. If you aren't paying attention the characters are suddenly going down a flight of stairs and you aren't quite sure how they got there. Yet Anderson is unafraid of spending an entire paragraph describing an object or using poetic language to make us understand the wind or the languishing canal. All of this is the same issues I have had with other M.T. Anderson novels. Anderson is a brilliant writer, with language and sentences that any writer could be envious of, but sometimes it throws off the pacing. This is not due to lack of plot, but because Anderson doesn't pay the same attention to detail in all aspects of his writing. His language is beautiful and his transitions feel stilted.

The characters in this story are great though, although you may be surprised as to who the main character really is. We are taken on a journey with the Brian and Gregory and I'll admit, I wasn't sure if they could win, although I knew they must.

Anderson does take us on a journey, but I often myself wondering why these boys went on the journey in the first place? Perhaps that is the wrong question for a fantasy novel, but if this happened to me as a child...I don't think I would have continued to play the game. Perhaps that is the joy of this book though, Brian and Gregory go on a journey that most people would be too afraid to set out on. Not a bad book, but it isn't one of Anderson's best.