Long Lost by Jacqueline West
Genre: Supernatural Mystery
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date: May 11, 2021
Long Lost tells two parallel stories about two pairs of sisters. Fiona and Arden live in the modern world, and the family has just moved to a new town in the interest of furthering Arden’s promising skating career. Hazel and Pearl live in the world of a strange book called The Lost Ones. Fiona finds the book in the library on one of the many days the rest of the family is occupied for Arden’s practices. Long Lost is almost equally divided between the two stories, and I confess, I was skeptical the format would work at first. It’s hard enough to ground the reader in one world and build up their empathy for one set of characters. It’s even more difficult to do it twice. But Long Lost does so with incredible effortlessness.
There are obvious parallels between the two stories; both of them revolve around a younger sister who constantly feels like she’s living in the shadow of the older one. But as Hazel and Pearl’s tale gets darker and darker, the animosity builds between Arden and Fiona. Curiosity grows to escapism and obsession, and for a decent chunk of the book, Fiona’s main goal revolves around getting hold of the mysterious library book, which she never seems to be able to keep in her hands long enough to read to the end. And I found myself right there with Fiona, begging her to find a way back to the library to read more (Fiona’s inability to get a library card to take the book out by normal means is a quest unto itself). When an author tells you they’ve got a fascinating story to tell, my first instinct is a skeptical, “Oh, really? It’s that good?” By building up Fiona’s obsession with getting to the end of The Lost Ones, Ms. West hypes up the story within a story with an incredible amount of confidence. And that story delivers.
Fiona is such a sympathetic character, flawed yet understandably so, with a fierce determination to drive her own story even when the adults are doing everything to stop her. Her sister Arden is a wonderfully developed character in her own right–not the entitled golden child trope but a complex girl who both wants her sister involved in her passions and wants to apologize for monopolizing their parents’ attention. Long Lost captures some complicated and heartfelt relationships while at the same time delivering an eerie supernatural story that will stay in readers’ memories long after the last chapter ends.
Rating: 5 out of 5
You can find Long Lost on Goodreads
You can also buy Long Lost on Amazon. (Affiliate link)