The Crossing, by Laurie Janey

29 Jul 2023

The Book

The Crossing
Pages: 450
Age Group: Adult
Published on 12 Dec 2022
Publisher: Self-Published
Available on:


Those who cross into Rheta from other worlds don’t usually arrive alive. Berro collects the crosser bodies for a prestigious secret project headed by his academic mentor, and he’s proud of his role, but when a living, breathing woman arrives in the forest through a crack in reality, the project and Berro’s ordered life are thrown into disarray.

On Rheta, nature is thriving and conflict is a distant memory. Chaos and cruelty are things belonging to other worlds, other times, and most Rhetari have lapsed into blissful complacency. But Berro is at the epicentre of an event that calls the delicate balance into question. As the crossing project unravels, he confronts the ugly truths about the civilisation he lives in, the work he’s committed to, and the broken parts of himself.  

My Review

Birds sang sleepily in the branches overhead and glowflies bobbed and glittered in the undergrowth – a gentle summer evening. The forest thrummed with life, but Berro was thinking about death.

The Crossing is a science fantasy novel, one of the SPFBO9 entries, and the debut novel from Laurie Janney. The story is set in the world of Rheta, a place with a lush landscape and where technology and nature are intertwined; here, a group of academics are studying the phenomenon of crossing from alternative Earth versions.

The plot follows closely the life of three students of the academy: Berro, Fessi and Virda, each one with its unique backstory that is affecting in their own ways. They are free to focus their studies on whatever they feel; that's until one day a crossing becomes successful, delivering its passenger safely (usually crossings end just with the crossed person's death). 
At this point, what we have is a low stakes story, that might be even considered a cozy one, where we are following the students during their life, a story of friendship and portals.

The jewels were dark purple crystals, so dark they were almost black, set into inner edges of the stone that had once formed the arch. Unbroken, it would resemble the upper jaw of a skag, with its terrible inward-facing teeth. Only these teeth weren’t terrible – they were beautiful.
‘What is this place?’ Virda whispered. ‘Why is this broken?’

But as it usually happens with this kind of ideal environments, the reality is darker than what is seems. Behind the utopian background, secrets are being kept, and some of them will challenge our characters and force them to grow and overcome their own fears in many ways.

Personally, I found the pacing of this story to be slow, but this seems to be more a myself-problem that one from the book; this character driven story takes its sweet time building the characters so when the mysteries are unleashed, they become more impactful. The coziness appearance gets destroyed once we are shown many of the dilemmas that allow this kind of utopical community existence.

A stand of tall, infected trees grew at the heart of their civilisation, and it was time for them to burn.

Janey's prose deserves a mention, as it is one of the major strengths of The Crossing. Descriptions are really vivid, creating full of detail images in our head while reading, giving extra credibility to this alien world where the community is situated.

The Crossing is a great debut novel, and a novel that shines for many of its unique aspects; classifying it into a genre is a difficult task. If you enjoy science fantasy, and prefer your stories to be slower paced, I would definitely recommend The Crossing to you.

The Author/s

Laurie Janey

Laurie Janey

SFF writer, proofreader, doodler, mom. The Crossing - #SPFBO9