The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove features a unique and imaginative world concept that made up for the way the adversary relationship sort of just petered out at the end.
Sophia, 13, lives with her uncle after her parents went missing a decade ago. She lives in the 1890’s, technically, but hers is a strange world – ever since the Great Disruption, all the eras of history exist side by side across the planet, so while it’s the 19th century in America (now called New Occident), it might be the 13th century in another area, the 40th century in another, and prehistoric times elsewhere. Cartologers chart time as well as geography in their magical maps, and her uncle is one of the best – just beginning to teach her the art. When he is kidnapped, Sophia goes in search of him, accompanied by a mysterious boy she just met.
They are chased by the terrifying minions of her uncle’s kidnapper, Blanca, a veiled woman who is trying to find a legendary map that will change the world. Sophia possesses the key to Blanca’s goal, although she doesn’t understand its significance. She is temporarily abandoned by her companion but taken up by friendly pirates. She finds her uncle, loses and then rescues her other companions, but then they all must flee together. They go underground into a labyrinth that leads to an empty city, where many answers can be found. Sophia does end up alone with the adversary at the end, but instead of a showdown, the adversary gives up her plans – seeing her inevitable defeat as the world is on the brink of destruction – and helps Sophia with the task she was destined for.
This was an incredibly engaging and interesting book, and I especially liked how Sophia was sort of unhinged from time, and could easily experience a moment as a day, or vice versa – which could be an advantage or a disadvantage. Having a bit of that problem myself, I could relate, and it made her more complex and thoughtful than the average 13 year old.