by Dani Kane
Danny Mendoza is different, and no one at his new school lets him forget it. His sensory quirks isolate him from everyone except his only friend, a girl named Sam. He doesn’t do well with loud sounds or bright lights and hates touching most things, so he spends most of his time alone surrounded by his books and models.
When Danny hides from a gang of bullies in the park after school one day, he is suddenly sucked through a wormhole into the alternate fantasy world of Umberhold. There, his senses explode with the vibrant colors and creatures of the amazing yet dangerous world and finds he has the power to wield the life-generating Essence of the land–the first to do so in hundreds of years.
Though the fantasy world is dying at the hand of a crazed scientist set on destroying nature and replacing everything with metal and gears: and Danny is only one who can save it. Danny just wants to go back to his life and pretend to be normal just like every other kid his age and not worry about evil-overlords, cyborgs or flesh-hungry creatures straight out of his nightmares.
But when his little sister wanders through the portal and disappears on the other side, Danny must step up as the hero everyone believes he is. Together with a newfound group of companions, Danny has to go against every instinct in his body to battle monsters, navigate dangerous forests and learn to face his troubles at home to find his sister and save Umberhold.
Ugh. Why does middle school have to be so hard?
In the vein of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and Mathew Jobin’s The Nethergrim comes a tale of friendship, adventure, and learning to embrace your uniqueness in the face of adversity and monsters in the dark.