Gregor really misses his father. Since he disappeared without a trace two years ago, life has not been the same. He accepts the added responsibilities he now has: helping around their New York City apartment and babysitting his two-year-old sister. He just wishes he could be with his father again. Gregor refuses to believe his dad would just abandon their family, but is afraid to dream of the day when he would return.
Although only eleven, Gregor has managed to learn several new skills while his mother is at work, including how to do laundry. He is actually pretty efficient at this task, though it is a challenge to keep an eye on his sister, Boots, at the same time. When she manages to find an open vent in the wall, Gregor tries to prevent her from crawling into it, but a strange mist seems to beckon them, and before he knows it, both he and Boots are tumbling down what seems like an endless tunnel. When they finally land, miraculously without any broken bones, they are met by some gigantic roaches who take a liking to Boots. They escort the two children to Regalia, a complex underground city ruled by humans. There, Gregor meets Luxa, heiress to the throne of Regalia and her grandfather Vikus. Vikus is convinced that Gregor is the warrior that prophecies claim will save the underworld from the scourge of the giant rats. Gregor does not feel like much of a hero. When he learns that his father may also have fallen down the same vent in the laundry room, however, he decides to play along and help the people of Regalia.
This engaging and suspenseful first book in the Underland Chronicles is sure to get even reluctant readers hooked on the series. The author’s vivid descriptions of life in Regalia make the possibility of a land under New York City almost seem possible. Gregor is an admirable protagonist who demonstrates good judgment, compassion and a consistent desire to do the right thing. A loyal big brother and son, he puts the welfare of others ahead of his own and in the process gains the respect of all the “Underlanders”. Although the conflict in the plot resolves itself by the end of the book, the hint that Gregor will return to Regalia entices the reader to continue with the series.
A former teacher, Jennifer Minicus is currently a full-time wife and mother living in Ridgewood.