In Lemabantunk, the Glorious City, peace and plenty are the rule of the day. The only problem is, they're ensured by swift and unyielding justice. When young Darroti, a carpet seller, is accused of murdering a holy beggar, he is exiled along with his entire family. Passing through a door into another dimension, Darroti's family ends up in an all-too-possible future--in a United States of refugee camps, terrorist attacks, suspicion and prejudice.

The family must cope with life in 21st-century America, from forging new identities and finding jobs to discovering television and McDonald's, all the while bearing the guilt of Darroti's crime and the knowledge they will never again see their beloved homeland.

Alternating voices between Darroti, his father Timbor and Darroti's young niece Zama, Palwick explores the meaning of family, and the debts we owe each other as human beings, while crafting an exciting and entertaining tale. Language, characterization and world-building flow together beautifully to tell a heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting story that will appeal to a wide variety of readers. Dropping characters from a fairly standard fantasy land into the stuff of alternate history offers a unique spin on the classic fish-out-of-water tale, and the reader will relish Palwick's ability to make the everyday magical when seen through the eyes of strangers in a strange land. (Oct., 320 pp., $24.95)
Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum