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Reviewed by Luwi Nyakansaila for Readers' Favorite
Within the Walls is a young adult fantasy by Hermione Lee. The story is set in the seemingly ordinary Cinzel Academy, but its walls hold magical secrets that can lead to the end of mankind. Maria and Mario Price are twins who attend the school but lack confidence because of the constant bullying they experience. They discover something extraordinary in the auditorium that opens them up to new possibilities, and they start to regain their confidence with the help of their English teacher Liz. They feel as if they are part of something special and meaningful. Unfortunately, Mario and Maria are in danger due to their discovery as they join the fight between good and evil, which could lead to their deaths.
Hermione Lee presents another entertaining and memorable story with Within the Walls. I enjoyed reading her earlier work, A Gathering of Tales. Her creative writing blends fantasy, social issues, action, and the emotional growth of the characters. In this work, she addresses the impact of propaganda, bullying, racism, and segregation on young minds. At the beginning of their journey, Mario and Maria have low self-esteem and are weighed down by their limiting beliefs. They regard themselves as average and do not believe that they have the potential to make a difference. The twins were desperate for acceptance and belonging, and they found it in the most unlikely place. Their story has not ended, and I hope to read more about them and the other characters in the future. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy books that have a dose of action and social issues.