Spider Circus by Alice Nuttall
I knew nothing about Spider Circus before I read this, and little about Alice Nuttall other than she was a student at the university where I work and I had put her profile on the web. When Diana Wynne Jones died she left a hole in the fantasy book world, but I think, just maybe that hole might be being filled.
This is the story of Lizzie, a girl from our own world who meets Jack, discovers that she is a Jumper, and escapes her life to run away with the Spider Circus. In her ordinary, unsatisfactory life, Lizzie has the kind of disfunctional family that reminds you of Polly in Fire & Hemlock. Then, as she jumps through the worlds you think of Homeward Bounders, Howl’s Moving Castle, but with Jack ever-present as some Chrestomanci-type of character but where you don’t know exactly what side Jack is going to come out on – if indeed he is on any side other than his own.
I draw these comparisons with Diana Wynne Jones but that is not say that this book is anything other than original. It’s just brilliant, imaginative, and compulsive reading. Alice Nuttall is a young force to be reconned with in the fantasy world.