Author Chris Ledbetter dedicates this book to his “little Smunchkin,” who, like protagonist and narrator Cameron, is an aspiring artist. He further acknowledges his family for supporting him in rounds of writing that took him up past midnight, not to mention critique partners including Heather Petty, beta readers such as Kim Harnes, publisher Evernight Teen, and cover designer Jay Aheer. The main text itself opens with quotes from Leonardo da Vinci and Fernando Pessoa, with the chapters, akin to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld franchise, not being marked or numbered, although fortunately, there are natural breaks within the text proper ensuring that readers won’t have to go through long periods without breaks.
Cameron’s mentions in the beginning that his mother is dead and can’t admire his art, the narrator acknowledging time on Earth is limited, alongside his eighty-year-old Italian friend Marco Cassisi, who owns an art supply store named Bellissima. The protagonist is in some ways a jack of all trades, being an avid gamer with people across the country and writer for his school’s newspaper in addition to his aspirations to become a professional artist one day. The setting is ultimately revealed to be the Carolinas, specifically, while never explicitly stated within the text as far as this reviewer could see, North Carolina, the narrator himself being sixteen and still in high school according to the book’s blurbs.
The main character ultimately experiences a reversal that leads him to bequeath a sketchbook that apparently has some kind of magical power, as images he draws within it magically disappear and/or change, and he eventually discovers a world within the book known as Terra Sempre. He develops a love interest as well in Farrah Spangling, whose life becomes at stake, the key to her survival being in the book’s world. The novel somewhat seems to derive from movies such as Inception and the A-ha music video of “Take on Me,” although it’s still an enjoyable romp, with occasional popular culture references and a satisfying conclusion.
After a change of heart and major, he enrolled in Old Dominion University and earned his degree in Business Administration. He's worked in various managerial and marketing capacities throughout his life. While teaching high school for six years in Culpeper, VA, he taught business management, business law, marketing, and sports marketing, and also coached football.
He has walked the streets of Los Angeles and New York City, waded in the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and climbed Diamond Head crater on Hawaii and rang in the New Year in Tokyo, Japan. But he dreams of one day visiting Greece and Italy.
He's a proud member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and a strong supporter of the Need for Diverse Books. As a self-described, young reluctant reader, he writes young adult stories specifically to reach other reluctant readers. As a participant in the prestigious Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program, he was blessed to be mentored by Suzanne Morgan Williams, 2012 SCBWI member of the year.
He now lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.