On the Mortal Instruments series

Unhomely Places

By Kate Milford

There is the world you know, the world you have always known; and then you blink, and there is a place you never had any inkling of, and it spreads out across your eyescape. And then, most shockingly of all: There is the realization that these two places are one and the same. It turns out you never really knew the world around you at all. This is often the moment at which the adventure begins: Your street has gone feral and has carried your house and all of your neighbors’ homes to another part of your city; your child is a changeling; your wardrobe is a doorway to a pine forest where it is always winter but never Christmas. Or you witness something that could not have happened: a murder, perhaps, in which three kids your own age kill a fourth, none of whom anyone but you can see.

Much fantasy and science fiction is built on the idea of stumbling through a portal of some sort and discovering oneself lost in a place that is wholly other. I confess that I have developed a preference for tales in which the already-existing world itself is revealed to be wholly other; in which, perhaps, the experience of jamais vu, or derealization, reveals a whole new reality. Some of this preference has to do with the kind of fantasy I write; some of it has to do with my love of places, of cities and towns and the oddities that make each  …

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