This was another interesting middle grade fantasy featuring magic and new ways of thinking about fantastic elements in a story.
It features 12-year-old thieves Arthur and Wally in the town of Kingsport. While Arthur's the scheming type, eager to work his way up the Black Feathers gang (which he'll have to pay his drunken father's debts first, if he hopes to climb in the organization), Wally just wants to pay his brother's asylum hospital bill and have enough left over to eat.
Wally needs money and he squirms his way into a scheme by Arthur to rob a supposedly "deserted" mansion. Except, even when no one's in Weirdwood Manor, it's still alive -- watching. The boys step inside and the corridor stretches and twists upside down and turns, totally disorienting them, but they manage to make it to the end and through a door to the Imaginary world.
There the members of an order that are tasked with maintaining balance between the Real and the Imaginary capture Wally, but Arthur escapes. Wally learns Kingsport is having some Imaginary world break-through rift issues, and is on the brink of disaster. Arthur manages to break in to the Manor a second time and rescue Wally, but back in the Real, the boys discover a truly dangerous foe who is to blame for the rift.
I won't spoil the plot; it's super complex and there were twists and turns that kept me reading and guessing, which almost never happens in middle grade stories anylonger. The plot is not predictable, which was a delightful surprise.
I highly recommend this one for your holiday gift-giving!