Lucy Snow makes a wrong turn while traveling to her new boarding school and finds herself at Miss Weaver’s Academy for the Scientifically Gifted and Ethically Unfettered, a.k.a. Hollow Fields. Before she knows it, she’s enrolled and bound by contract to do the best she can at her studies. And they mean her best, because the student with the lowest GPA at the end of the week is sent to detention in the windmill–and no student who has gone there has ever returned!
Hollow Fields Omnibus
Age Rating: All-ages
Seven Seas, September 2009, ISBN 978-1-934876-72-5
544 pages, $14.99
Rosca’s series has gotten a lot of acclaim for its art, winning an International Manga Award in Japan in 2007, and it’s not hard to see why. She’s at home drawing both fantasy and science-fiction and she combines the two styles into an interesting and unique world. Her setting is part steampunk, part Hogwarts, with a dash of mad-scientist. Cogs are everywhere in the gothic castle that makes up Hollow Fields. The characters are either cute–the children–or creepy–the teachers. The later are all stitched together, held into their bodies only by an evil power. The former, though, are adorable, even when backstabbing one another other in class.
The pace of the story is almost breathtaking, even at 500+ pages. The story whizzes along, dragging readers with it, flipping back in forth in time as needed to develop the tale. Lucy and her classmates act like cute children most of the time, but their evil genius natures shine through, especially in class. Readers will identify with Lucy’s desire to fit in and make friends and will sympathize with her troubles. The teachers remain creepy throughout, though a few of their sinister creations are able to be redeemed by the finale. Rosca’s ending is fairly loose. The main plot is wrapped up, but there is plenty of room left for a sequel.
The only problem with Hollow Fields is that it is a perfect example of why the all-ages rating is too broad. The story is a great choice for older elementary and younger middle school readers, but it is in no way for all ages. It’s too scary for younger readers, so a more accurate rating would be 10+. But, that being said, middle schools looking to add tamer fare would do well to look at this three-volumes-in-one release. There is some violence and discussion of evil-genius experiments, but nothing beyond readers of novels like The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (Hachette) or H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute for Villainous Education by Mark Walden (Simon & Schuster).
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Seven Seas.