Seven Wherewithal Way
By Samantha-Ellen Bound
Reviewed by Annaleise Byrd
Samantha-Ellen Bound is a writer, editor and bookseller who has previously published a dance-themed junior fiction series called Silver Shoes and an all-ages tale called What the Raven Saw. Seven. Wherewithal Way is book one of a four-book middle grade portal fantasy series.
Eleven-year-old Celeste and her little sister Esme are spending a boring summer at their gran’s house, bickering constantly about how boring Esme thinks Celeste is and how annoying Celeste thinks Esme is, when their eccentric cousin Ferd (who uses they/them pronouns) suddenly falls out of the sky and livens things up. Ferd whisks the girls off in a flying bus—powered by cupcakes and propelled by talking feathers—to Seven Wherewithal Way, which is both Ferd’s home and the gateway to six Realms inaccessible from Earth.
But when something attempts to break in to Seven Wherewithal Way through the pantry—the portal to the Realm of Forests—Celeste learns the Realms are under threat from those seeking the portal-powering hagstones for their own ends. Various rescue missions ensue, complete with creepy forests, sinister straw people, vengeful water sprites, ancient forest guardians, the fearsome Baba Yaga and more. This action-packed, out-of-this-world adventure features various folklore-inspired mythical creatures, diverse and relatable characters who deliver plenty of mood-lightening one-liners, and themes of courage, loyalty and found family.
Bound’s knowledge of and love for world folklore is woven throughout this story. With a sophisticated writing style and future plots carefully foreshadowed, this is a perfect book for confident middle grade readers who love portal fantasies, richly detailed magical worlds and a series they can really sink their teeth into.