Wen Spencer's TINKER (4.5) is set in a world where scientists discovered years before how to build an interdimensional gate, but something went wrong: There's a forest where Pittsburgh used to be, and Pittsburgh is on Elfhome, a dimension ruled by elves. Tough but nave Tinker runs a junkyard there, spending her free time inventing—until she inadvertently rescues the elf Windwolf and they're stranded in the Earth dimension for a day. Without her healing magic, keeping Windwolf alive is a problem, and Tinker's solution will have unimagined consequences. Tinker may be several hundred steps ahead of the reader scientifically, but on a personal level she's often the last to figure things out, which makes her both endearing and exasperating. The nebulous ending is a bit of a letdown, but leaving room for a sequel means the reader may see more of Elfhome and its inhabitants. (Nov., 340 pp., $24.00)

Reviewed by: 
Jen Talley Exum