I can't remember for sure where I heard of Thresholds by Nina Kiriki Hoffman but I'm betting it was from Charlotte's Library. Whatever prompted me to add it to the TBR it recently found its way to the top and I was rather reluctant to start it. I ended up finding it quite good though, bizarre and rather creepy, but good.
Maya's family has just moved to Oregon from Idaho to make a new start for Maya who is mourning the recent death of her best friend. Maya is nervous about the start of school in a new place where she knows no one. On the way she meets a few of her next door neighbors who live in the Janus House Apartments. They are a little strange and everyone at school avoids them. Maya is intrigued by them, especially since she encountered a fairy in her bedroom and suspects the Janus House kids might know something about them. Then something strange and dangerous happens to Maya and she finds herself having to rely on the residents of Janus House for help because she certainly can not reveal her new secret to her own family.
Thresholds is definitely a page turner. Part fantasy and part science fiction, it is a fascinating melding of worlds. There are fairies sure but they come from other worlds, worlds to which there are portals, and one of them is located in the basement of Janus House. The members of the Janus family are trained all of their lives to work with the portal and the strange beings that come from it. The aliens. The family is a large one and the book introduces several members but focuses on the ones who are Maya's peers, Benjamin, Gwenda, and Rowan. Benjamin and Gwenda offer Maya friendship, help, and welcome her into their family once it is necessary. Rowan is harder to get to know and not much is revealed about him. He is dictatorial and disdainful most of the time but Maya is intrigued by him. Then there is Travis, another boy at school who Maya meets her first day. He is the first to come to Maya's rescue and is drawn into the events unfolding at Janus House as well.
There is a lot going on in this story. In addition to the many characters and the idea of aliens coming to our world through a portal controlled by people in the basement of their house, there is an inter world emergency involving eggs of alien life forms being stolen. The masterminds behind this are an alien life form who basically want to take over. One of these eggs is implanted on Maya's wrist and bonds with her which basically means it's hers for life. Did I find this a bit creepy? Yes I did. Especially as Maya is basically gestating the thing and they can silently communicate. It was fascinating though and interesting to see the way it unfolds. When the being, Rimi, hatches it takes on a form that will always keep it close to and able to protect Maya.
Woven throughout the story of aliens and other worlds are the themes of death and grief are dealt with in very real and sympathetic ways. The bond between Maya and Rimi might have come across as super unhealthy if Maya had not been processing her grief and making other friends at the same time.
This book is only the first part of the story and reads like an introduction. Much of the world is left unexplained. There are many unanswered questions left at the end. I was actually rather impressed with how well I felt I knew all the characters at the end given the book's short length, large cast, and complex plot. The story of Maya, Rimi, and the Janus House family continue in the next book Meetings which was just released at the beginning a couple of weeks ago.