Book Review of Hither and Nigh
The Children’s Book Review
Written by Ellen Potter
Ages: 8-12 | 416 Pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2022) | ISBN-13: 9781665910385
What to Expect: Family, magic, fairies, gambling, and bullying
Hither and Nigh is a fresh and refreshing revamp of the classic “stolen by fairies” plotline, with rich settings, complex characters, and a rollercoaster pace.
Nell is obsessed with two things: finding her brother, River, who went missing three years earlier, and chess hustling. It’s a combo guaranteed to brew trouble, which is how she ends up in the Last Chance Club with three other misfit students, all of them facing an ultimatum—join the club or be expelled. However, on day one, it becomes clear that the club is not all that it seems. The students are learning magic, the teacher is semi-sadistic, and with her first misfiring spell, Nell has conjured a ghost of her brother in the school playground.
Things get even weirder from there, and soon Nell finds herself traveling between New York and its supernatural double, the Nigh, where monstrous creatures threaten from all sides. Her new friends want to help—but will their involvement in her quest for her brother get them killed?
The story tackles some heavy topics—grief, gambling, abuse, exploitation, homelessness, poverty—but without becoming too heavy or difficult for younger middle-grade readers to enjoy and relate to. Nell is an endearingly down-to-earth heroine, and readers will enjoy watching her uncover the many unexpected facets of the other characters around her. The story also makes use of wordplay and humor which, together with the surreal supernatural setting and quirky interpretation of magic, make the narrative fun as well as fast-paced.
Hither and Nigh is an unforgettable read—thank goodness there’s a sequel on the way!
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About the Author
Ellen Potter is the author of many award-winning middle-grade novels, including the BIG FOOT AND LITTLE FOOT series, the PIPER GREEN AND THE FAIRY TREE series, the OLIVIA KIDNEY series, PISH POSH, SLOB, THE HUMMING ROOM, OTIS DOODA, and THE KNEEBONE BOY.
Her nonfiction book SPILLING INK: A Young Writer’s Handbook (co-authored by Anne Mazer) was a New York Public Library Top 100 Children’s Book for 2010 and a Children’s Literature Assembly 2011 Notable Book.
For more information, visit EllenPotter.com.