Monday, July 28, 2014

MMGM: Still Life (The Books of Elsewhere # 5)

by Jacqueline West with illustrations by Poly Bernatene
(June 17th 2014, Dial)

Book Description:

Elsewhere is in danger again and twelve year-old Olive Dunwoody must put a stop to Aldous McMartin’s evil plans once and for all. She, along with her friends new (Rutherford, Mrs. Dewey and Walter) and old (Morton and the cats), must find a way to stop Aldous from coming back to Elsewhere. 

But this isn’t the only problem in Olive’s way. She wants to reunite Morton with his family, but needs to find them first. Worse yet, she discovers a secret that could be the undoing of Elsewhere itself.  


The most striking thing about Still Life is the beautiful writing: poetic, atmospheric and fluid. It works in perfect tandem with the lovely black and white illustrations by Poly Bernatene. 

Our main protagonist, Olive, who is exceptionally normal, is a brave and likeable heroine. She goes through a lot here and comes out the better for it. 

There is a large and funny cast and West handles them well, from fun-loving Harvey to mysterious and bossy Horatio. There are also quite a few intriguing characters introduced and some returning from previous books. Aldous McMartin, the main villain, is truly menacing and his motives and actions are well thought out.

Once the story gets started, the action never lets up. There is a real feeling of suspense and danger, and a few twists and revelations that I didn’t see coming. The stakes are higher than ever, and it isn’t only about stopping Aldous McMartin anymore. The fate of the whole of Elsewhere rests in the balance.

The ending is excellent. All loose ends were tied up and West found a resolution that was inventive and feel-good without being saccharine. 


The beginning is slow, nearly a fifth of the book passes before anything interesting happens. Also, Olive comes to certain conclusions without there being any clear reasoning that leads to them.

Despite being quiet good, Still Life isn’t enough of a standalone to be fully enjoyed by someone who hasn’t read the previous volumes in the series.

Another point that might bother readers is that Olive’s parents are too clueless and negligent to be believable.


Though it may not be suited for new readers, Still Life is a rewarding and satisfying end to a great series. It’s full of magic, fun and danger and populated by a cast of characters that will win you over from start. 

Rating: (8/10)

Get it on Book Depository
For more excellent MG book recommendations, go to Shannon Messenger's blog.

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  1. Thanks for the warning about the slow beginning. Might make a better read-aloud for some. Loved the cover as it is full of intrigue. Thanks for featuring.

    1. You're welcome and thanks for commenting!

  2. Yes, this is such a beautiful cover! It sounds intriguing, but I'll have to start with #1.

    1. Yes, do! The Shadows, the first of this series, is excellent! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Thanks for the warning that we need to read the others in the series first. The cover art is very attractive. Thanks for the review. By the way, you have some good news over on my blog!

    1. You're welcome! Yeah, I really do love that cover art! The illustrations inside the book are lovely as well.

      We'll be emailing you about the giveaway soon. Thanks a lot! :)

  4. I loved, loved the first four books in this series. I am excited for Still Life, even if the beginning is rather slow. Thanks for stopping by my MMGM!

    1. Despite the beginning it's still really good, and I recommend it if you read the other books. Thanks for reading the review!