A Tuesday Ten: Crossworld Fantasy

These stories I’m including are ones where the characters start out in the “real”  world and find themselves in another world altogether.  Rule for this list is that the books can’t be multiverse tales (books where there are more than two worlds brought in) I have a list of those already here.



The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (Collier Books, c1950)

Probably one of the most famous MG crossworld fantasies.  How many kids have investigated their closets and wardrobes in hopes that they, too might have a secret passage into the magical land of Narnia. Four children from real world Britain enter a world of talking animals, magic and evil witches.



Button Hill by Michael Bradford (Orca Books, Expected Publication April 2015)

Dekker and his sister Riley have to spend the summer with their Aunt Primrose on Button Hill.  But what Dekker thinks will be a rotten summer of boredom quickly becomes something else again when he messes with a clock he’s been told not to touch and sets things in motion that leave his sister stuck in the world of the Nightside.  The real world is the Dayside, and Button Hill is one of the places where the two worlds touch and things . . . and people can cross over.  But getting his sister back from the Nightside won’t be so easy . . .



Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Evertype, c1865)

Another classic of this type.  Down a rabbit hole goes Alice, after a white cross world trekking rabbit. Instead of dirt and roots, Alice finds an extraordinary madcap world called Wonderland.  Full of unforgettable characters and scenes, this book is a perfect example of what I’m aiming for on this list.


Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (Del Ray, c2007)

China Mieville’s (I think) only middle grade novel.  This odd story takes place in real and an alternate London with two girls discovering an entrance to the bizarre alternate, Un Lun Dun.  Mieville plays with the typical chosen one trope here by having the real chosen one fall to the villains early on–now only her best friend–the not-so-chosen-one, is left to help save the day.


Seven Wild Sisters by Charles De Lint, illustrated by Charles Vess (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014)

The world of Faerie is likely the most commonly used form of crossworld adventure.  Humans venture into the world via a number of (usually natural) boundaries, often at fairy invitation.  In this story, seven sisters all become involved in a fairy war and must help untangle things in order to go home again.  As in most cases with the world of Faerie, humans are at risk going there, and getting home again with their wits intact is part of the challenge!


Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne (Simon & Schuster, 2014)

Ten-year-old Jack Foster is bored with his humdrum life–he wants excitement, adventure and attention!  But when he finds a secret path to Londinium, a clock-work world that mirrors his own London, Jack will soon find more excitement, adventure and attention than he can handle!


Behind the Bookcase by Mark Steensland, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Delacorte, 2012)

Sarah is spending the summer at her late Grandma Winnie’s house.  And she finds a note left behind by her grandma saying: Strange things are happening behind the bookcase.   By investigating, Sarah discovers that the bookcase hides the entrance to the land of Scotopia, the land where the shadows come from.   A cat named Balthazat is her guide in this dangerous world  where Sarah will have to face her fears.  Guides to these crossworlds can be quite important players–and I think cats are one of the most common sort of creatures used as a guide.


Dark Lord by Jamie Thomson (Walker Children’s, 2012)

Okay, this one plays a little fast and loose with the rule.  A Dark Lord, leader of many minions and Legions of Doom, has been defeated by a good wizard and been thrust away from his world to that of Earth.  Worse than that, he’s now a tween boy in an ordinary town that has no idea of his former malevolent abilities.  “Dirk Lloyd” as he comes to be called, works feverishly at finding a way home while navigating the horrors of middle school.  Technically Dirk is from another world and comes to ours, but there is crossover in both direction within the book–so I think it counts!


Coraline by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean (HarperCollins, c2002)

Like crossworlders everywhere, it starts with a bored kid who gets curious and finds a door . . .  Coraline just doesn’t have much to do in her world with her inattentive parents and odd boarders.  So when she finds a door that leads to another world, she goes through–and finds a distorted mirror world, a world much like her own, but chillingly different.   This is no happy fairy story!  Unless Coraline keeps her wits about her, she may never get back to her world again!



Changeling by Delia Sherman (Viking Juvenile, 2006)

Neef is a changeling.  A human girl brought over to the alternate fairy world version of NYC as a babe.  She was raised in New York In-Between all her life, while her fairy counterpart has lived in the human NYC.  When Neef breaks fairy laws, her life is forfeit unless she’s able to fulfill a quest  and gain 3 special items.  Neef is accompanied on her mission by her fairy counterpart and the two girls must use their skills to win the quest before time runs out!  I love alternate world fantasy like this where the author makes use of the existing world  but twists it so that things are just a bit more fantastical!

So there are my ten!  What cross world books can you think of?

Comments Welcome!


About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on February 22, 2015, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    The Neverending Story by Michael Ende is one of my favorites in this category. Though I haven’t read it for ages, Elidor by Alan Garner is another classic.

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