Within the Blackhope Tower is a magical labyrinth, mysteriously appearing skeletons, and an ancient painting. For centuries, rumors milled around the Mariner's Chamber, which contained the labyrinth and famous painting. Sunni, her friend Blaise, and her stepbrother, Dean, visit the tower for a school project. But when Sunni sees her stepbrother disappear, seemingly inside the painting, she goes in search of him. In the desperate search for her stepbrother, Sunni encounters dangers unlike any other. She comes face-to-face with people who vanished in the painting centuries before. Fearing the worst, Sunni, Blaise, and Dean struggle for survival in the world conealed within hte Mariner's Chamber in their attempt to return home.
My only regret was not picking up this book sooner. It was enthralling. I absolutely loved all the new and exciting ideas surrounding the mysterious painting. Even more, I loved the concept of using sorcery to paint a real, tangible world in an inner layer beneath the painting - and a paradise at that! It contained all sorts of oddities, mythological creatures and alchemic ideas. It was entirely vivid in detail, the settings were all beautifully described. The character development was quite interesting, and fit very well with the story; it flowed smoothly and tied back to the story splendidly. Personally, I loved Sunni and Blaise. I felt a closer connection to them because of their endless curiousity and interest in art. I also had an admiration for Marin, who was an apprentice to the famous painter centuries before. He had a painful past which made me feel empathy for him. This story as a whole affected me on an emotional level, it made me feel like the characters were, in a sense, real.