"It goes without saying that brothers and sisters often share things with each other, like knock knees, turned-up noses, freckles, the measles, and - if they are kind and generous - toys and bags of sweets; but apart from sharing the same father and mother, Athene and Zachary Enright, aged twelve and six respectively, didn't share anything at all." p.7
So we begin. Athene has a deep rooted hatred for her brother. There's no particular reason for it, but it is there. He says black, she says white. He wants to go on a camping vacation, Athene begs to go to a farm. Athene, as usual, gets her way.
She is bratty enough to convince her parents that they should share a room with Zach, and she should have a room all to herself. Once there, however, she realizes that being alone in a room in a strange space is a bit disconcerting. Athene decides that she will go find Crumbs the farm cat to keep her company, and she heads outside. Upon looking for the cat, Athene notices a kid walking around. She assumes that it is Zach and goes to catch him and tell him what an idiot he is. The thing is, the "person" she catches up to is not Zach at all. Instead, it was the oddest little man that Athene had ever seen. "His skin was striped and speckled, his eyes shone like pearl buttons and his broad, bat-like ears were inclined to flap and twitch." (p. 24)
Athene has happened upon a Humble Gloam. The Gloam are nocturnal creatures who live in seclusion in the country-side. They call humans the "Glare" and they do not interact with them at all. Athene makes sure that she gets befriended by this Gloam named Humdudgeon. It is the most exciting thing that has happened to her. That is until little brother Zach comes along and finds her with the Gloam.
But Athene hatches a plan. There is a group of Gloam called the Low Gloam who live underground and keep anyone who enters their realm bound there with magic. The entrance to the Low Gloam is not too far away. Athene tricks Zach into seeking shelter in the fallen tree entrance. He quickly disappears. Maybe forever.
Athene is quite surprised to be taken by a guilty conscience about Zach. Will her Humble Gloam friends help her find her brother? Will the Low Gloam keep her underground?
Anna Dale has written a magical little story that fans of light fantasy should take to. Athene is quite despicable at first, and the Gloam are quirky and interesting. It's a fun adventure tinged with magic that younger tweens will enjoy.