Night Gate

A girl named Rage must rescue her mother in Night Gate by Isobelle Carmody. Rage waits for news about her injured and unconscious mother, accompanied only by her loyal dogs, when she finally decides to take matters into her own hands and sets off for the hospital, only to be approached along the way by a firecat – it urges her to walk through a gate in order to find a wizard and save her mother.

In the process of going through the gate to the otherworld (called Valley), her dogs transform, and are even more fully her companions on her journey. It is often difficult to discern who the adversary is: the firecat, the wizard, the High Keeper? Along her journey, Rage finds it harder and harder to remember her life at home. She almost loses track of her quest to help her mother, becoming more involved in her new quest to find the wizard. Though it turns out that her “real life” is more connected to this otherworld than she thinks.

She must act quickly, because the hourglass she holds is running out; she must solve the rhyming riddle engraved on it. She must expose the fraud perpetrated by the “keepers” and show what’s really going on, in order to save the whole world from destruction.

This one has all the elements, and is well executed. I look forward to reading the sequels at some point.