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In Other Lands (In Other Lands #1)

4.4  ·  Rating details ·  3,243 Ratings  ·  890 Reviews
“What’s your name?”


“Serena?” Elliot asked.

“Serene,” said Serene. “My full name is Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle.”

Elliot’s mouth fell open. “That is badass.”

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border—unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoi
Hardcover, 437 pages
Published August 15th 2017 by Big Mouth House (first published June 10th 2014)
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skadoosh It's an expanded version of Turn of the Story (check the length! 432 pages! wow!) that also seems to have been rewritten to some degree. SRB's blog…moreIt's an expanded version of Turn of the Story (check the length! 432 pages! wow!) that also seems to have been rewritten to some degree. SRB's blog post says "...I wrote a good bit more. I wrote a Romantic Resolution. I wrote a Friendship Resolution. I went back in time and wrote more of the hero in our world, making no friends. I went back and wrote the hero in the magic world, trying to make new friends and making friends he didn’t expect." So it likely does include the extra snippets that have been posted online, as well as a lot of new content.

(full post:

The blog post also mentions that the book has a different title because it's a different book now. It's not clear to what extent it's been rewritten, but the original Turn of the Story is being taken down in two weeks (which is standard, otherwise how would SRB and her publisher expect to make money from In Other Lands?). So, save the original Turn of the Story if you wish, and look forward to a longer and slightly different version in a couple months' time!(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sherwood Smith
One of the aspects of the long conversation writers have been having with literature that I find most interesting is what some call deconstruction. We read a given genre with pleasure, eventually discovering patterns to which we respond in various ways. The fictional deconstruction I tend to gravitate to reads like a conversation, and like a conversation can vary from critical engagement to sly tweaks and riffs. I’m not really into the slamdunks, though many readers I know are.

In recent years th
C.G. Drews
Okayyyy I have not finished this book. NOT BECAUSE I DIDN'T WANT TO. It was up on Edleweiss and I didn't realise it was a sampler? I am so very confused. Why would they do this to me. I am sweet and kind and didn't deserve to fully enjoy like 100pgs of an excellent book and then have it rudely snatched from me. I'm so MAD right now.

Anyway! It's wonderful and hilarious and I want more. Super feminist (!!) and magical and Elliot is a nasty little pacifist bookworm and honestly just the worst and I
rin (lorenzo)
Normally, Elliot refused weird propositions from potentially demented strangers.

this (not-really-a) review is going to be in a bullet point thingy style because i can't stay coherent even if my life depended on it
• i fell in LOVE with this book since the very FIRST PAGE
• elliot is one of my most fav NARRATORS
• sarah rees brennan's wit and humor always gets me
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
Wow, In Other Lands takes "Good intentions, terrible execution" to a whole new level. Wow. That's actually quite an achievement. Wow. Let's forget about it entirely. Just let'ssssssss. I don't even want to rant and y'all know how much I love that. Please don't make me talk about it. I don't think I can without rage-removing a star (too late, I did) because Elliot is an obnoxious and stupid jerk. Or because Serene is... Who is Serene and who the fuck cares anyway??

My main problems were that it r
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
DNF. I read several chapters, started suspecting that it wasn't going to be my type of read, and skimmed about half of the rest of the book, which confirmed my suspicions. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Thirteen-year-old Elliot is pulled from his geography class one day, packed into a van with three other students, and driven to a random field in Devon, England, where he watches his French teacher exchanges money with a woman standing next to a high wall.
The woman in odd clothing “tes
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.25ish stars.

This is a warts-and-all type of story. Far from perfect, but so much of it worked for me. It wasn't at all what I was expecting and it caught me off guard when I realized I liked it so much. Loved these characters, as awful a person as Elliot is. Can you even blame him though? HE'S SO MUCH SMARTER THAN YOU IT'S NOT HIS FAULT. Great dialogue and lots of snark really elevate it from other "magic school" or "portal fantasy" books and deconstructions of the same, and make up for what i
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
if you ever wanted a crash course in things I love then read this book
Clare Vaughn
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hands-down one of the most hilarious narrators I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Think Percy Jackson, if Percy Jackson was a pacifist and also kind of a huge asshole. Elliot is intelligent, gutsy, and out to save the world through learning trollish, throwing knives (in a uniquely pacifist way that's also a dick move), and talking to (flirting with) people instead of hitting them, good lord guys. He is my absolute favorite person: I laughed during "In Other Lands" more than I have in ages.

/ugly crying

(The more proper review)

Let’s start with a confession: I really like reading books that my friends like. I love being a part of a fandom or a community, so usually a hype is something that pulls me closer and not away. Unfortunately, sometimes I talk myself into believing I like something much more than I really do and then the realization is disturbing and I feel kind of fake or stupid. It happened to me already once this year so when I started reading In Other Lands I promised mys
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! It's funny, thoughtful and wonderfully inventive. My only gripe is that it's over now;-) Such a bright, satisfying read. My copy came from the library, but I liked it so much I just ordered my own. I look forward to seeing what this author comes up with next!

Find more reviews and bookish fun at
Jessi ♡
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“He had spent his whole life not being loved at all, and he had thought being loved enough would satisfy him. It would not. He did not want to be loved enough. He wanted to be loved overwhelmingly.”
It takes a talented writer to develop one character from age 13 to age 17 in one book, and do it in a realistic, fun, not rushed way. Elliot Schafer is a normal kid, no exceptionary skills, no earth-shattering powers, except maybe his incredible ability to annoy anyone he wants. He enters a new ma

seriously magical and wonderful and so angsty but also I love my smol kids Elliot and Luke and brb I need to sob over them because this book was a true delight I don't even have WORDS TO DESCRIBE
Iryna (Book and Sword)
2.5/5 stars (rounded down)

I just realized that the book has been long published and I can finally update my partial review here as well. It was originally posted on my blog: HERE

I must say that the blurb of this book is a little misleading. I was expecting a fantasy book – full of adventures, mermaids, elves, dwarves, maybe even some dragons – you know, the usual stuff. That was not what I got. Granted there were elves and mermaids, and some other mythical creatures – it just wasn’t fantasy. It
˗ˏˋ eg ˎˊ˗
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this book was a fucking DELIGHT and I have truly never loved anything more

this book continues to be the Best Everything My Two Eyes Have Ever Read!!!!!! I LOVE!!!
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
my heart is so full of feelings I want to claw my face off because I don't know how to deal with it. this book is so, so good.
just here for desi sapphics
say hi to the only book i've reread within days of first reading it and loved it even more the second time
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mild general spoilers about premise/characterisation in review; more specific spoilers under cuts.

There are some great books I love and then there are books that, regardless of any possible imperfections, strike a chord right in my heart. No, let's be real: as a Polish poet once said, with pathos I'm sure Elliot would appreciate, what they do is (with apologies for the godawful translation) "tear out veins to use for chords, and pull them, and strike as chords".

This is such a profoundly funny,
“Oh no,” Elliot moaned, and sat down heavily on his bunk bed. “This is magic Sparta.”

In Other Lands is genuinely one of the sweetest, most entertaining novels I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Sarah Rees Brennan has created an intricate world full of drama, humour, fantasy and queer romance that I can’t recommend enough.

By far the best thing about this novel is it’s protagonist, Elliot Schafer, a bisexual, Jewish boy. When In Other Lands begins, Eliot is 13 years old and it follows him th
Anja V
this book is so hard to rate istg
my heart says 5 but my head says 3
and 4 just feels wrong???

for all you fellow thomas sanders fangirls, basically my very own patton and logan are having a fight
and yes, i do believe thomas sanders is the most precious gay to ever exist

here's a summary of the discussion i had with myself for the last 3 days since finishing this book:

head: yeah but the story was really predictable
heart: elliot is a great pov, he is sassy a
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had this for a long time before I got around to reading it because it's kind of long and I just wasn't up to a 450+ page YA. I'm kicking myself for that now. Sarah Rees Brennan has read and loved all the same YA fantasy novels you have, and she has also noticed how ridiculous they can be and turned her talents to fixing that. Yes, this is still occasionally ridiculous, but deliberately so. It's snarky as hell, but also heartfelt. It has elves and mermaids and trolls and dwarves and even a unic ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqa
"You know, you're kind of a dramatic person, Elliot," she said mildly.

"I am not! How dare you!"

"It's not a bad thing," Myra said, "but when a boy calls a girl the nightlight of his soul, other people might be forgiven for thinking he's being intentionally over the top."

Elliot Schafer, irritable resident of Earth, finds himself in a quasi-Medieval magic school. People are talking about warrior-training (UGH, says Elliot) and all of it looks a lot like child endangerment. BUT, there are elves. S
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book broke my heart a little bit. In typical Sarah Rees Brennan fashion, it is by turns hilarious, absurd, breathtakingly romantic, and bitterly, bitterly sad. Our young hero, Elliott, has the worst parents since a Diana Wynne Jones novel, and basically no people skills whatsoever. He's not the sort of kid you'd expect to wind up in magic land, or to be the main character of a fantasy novel, and his struggles to figure out himself and his relationships and his place in the world are so real ...more
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could express how much I loved Elliott and Serene’s characters and the writing and everything else but there’s just so many things to say, I don’t know where to begin.
Even if you found yourself in a magical story, there were no guarantees that you were the hero, or that you would get the things you dreamed of. Elliot knew no way, being who he was, to deserve that.

IN OTHER LANDS is subversive, silly, sassy, strange, and sweet. It's also a wee bit heartbreaking. And sometimes you kinda wonder if anything is happening, and what's even going on, and maybe Elliot is like super abrasive and awful (kinda like how Hermione could've been if she was completely without
Beth Cato
I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.

This book was not what I expected it to be. At the start, I was highly engaged at the thought of a new, creative take on a kind of Harry Potter book with a sarcastic, pacifist geeky lead. Then I started to wonder what the actual plot was, as nothing developed along those lines. Then it became clear that it was really an angst-filled catalog of teenage sexual exploits with some fantasy dressing. There was no real plot beyond th
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

In Other Lands is delightful and moving standalone fantasy novel. It's incredibly well-written, the humor in the story is so on point and the dramatic serious scenes are well-crafted and so relevant to our present day world.

The story takes place in Borderlands, a fantasy place with humans, elfs, dwarfs, harpies, mermaids etc. Humans are guarding the Border because people from our world can pass through the Border to the fantasy world. Of course, humans formed a military institution to g
If it was 2017 still I'd be saying this is the best bisexual book I've read all year. But it'll probably be the best one I read in 2018 too. It took me a little bit to get into this, but once I was on board with the dry humour and understood who Elliot was (obnoxious little turd that he is who has never been loved), I could not stop reading this book.

It's a wonderful nuanced portrayal of a bisexual boy and about a kid who goes away to a portal fantasy world that isn't quite the idealized thing
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Question re: title 1 13 Apr 14, 2015 11:21AM  
Sarah Rees Brennan is Irish and currently lives in Dublin. For a short stint, she lived in New York and became involved with a wide circle of writers who encouraged and supported her, including Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. She has developed a wide audience through her popular blog,, where she writes movie parodies, book reviews and some stories.
More about Sarah Rees Brennan

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In Other Lands (2 books)
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“You will never find me in trouble. You will find me in the library. If you can remember where that is.” 24 likes
“Elliot was trying to teach himself trollish via a two-hundred-year-old book by a man who’d had a traumatic break-up with a troll. This meant a lot of commentary along the lines of “This is how trolls say I love you. FOOTNOTE: BUT THEY DON’T MEAN IT!” 21 likes
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