Review of eSide, a Journey through Cyberspace, by Goldie Alexander
The Good-Luck-Conch has its home in Kate’s café, and brings good luck to Kate, her daughter Sam, and the customers. For the first time, prickly impatient Sam has made a good friend, Melody, and Kate and Melody’s mum, Elaine, are equally happy in one another’s company. All is going well, until the Good-Luck-Conch disappears. Suddenly everything goes wrong- the café waiter Manny breaks his arm and many of the customers suffer misfortunes as jobs are lost and opportunities snatched away. The girls suspect Hecate Badminton, the landlady, of stealing the conch. After all, Hecate is a bad witch, and her white cat, Rani, has the disconcerting habit of changing into a hungry snow leopard at intervals.
tGF, a real magician, turns up at the café and provides the girls with a Monitor, a magical gadget which may help them find the Good-Luck-Conch. The girls use the Monitor, and, along with Melody’s dog, Billy, end up in eSide, the weird world inside Hecate’s mainframe computer. Here they meet strange beings, some friendly, some not, who help or hinder them on their dangerous quest for the stolen conch and the luck of the café and, by extension, of the town of Squeaky.
The story is split into five parts, which cleverly mimic the levels in a computer game. The characters, animals that used to be human and humans that used to be animals, reflect on the human condition, but their alienation means the girls never quite know who to trust. Even when Hecate is defeated the doubt remains- as tGF says, good must triumph but evil never entirely goes away.
eSide is an exciting and highly original story. The girls make believable friends, and the story kept this reader guessing until the end.
This novel is available at www.fivesenseseducation.com.au