Three stars, read in 2010.
This book is as interesting as the cover looks. It’s almost 400 pages, but goes quickly because many of the pages are beautiful, full-sized illustrations done by the author. Barker has a kind of impressionist style, and the characters and places in the book are imaginative, sometimes a bit grotesque. Even the setting provides intriguing imagery: a fantasy land where every island represents a different hour of the day, and a human protagonist brought from her own world to save Abarat from the evil that threatens it.
The story itself is very creative, although I found some of the names a bit silly (the main character is Candy Quackenbush and she comes from Chickentown). There’s plenty of the too-obvious humor that adolescent lit often has, but the writing is also lovely in places, and occasionally I would read sentences and then reread them because they were surprisingly beautiful. I’m not generally into horror, which is what most of Barker’s adult books are, but I would certainly like to read the sequel to this one.