De trap naar de Nederzee - The stairs to the Nethersea

Wanda de Koning has to take her little brother Alexander to their school's All Hallows Eve party.
Two strange boys stop them. One is wearing the same vampire mask Alex is.
The older boy is wearing an even weirder mask; it's a realistic and creepy replica of a feline's face.
He proposes a trade to Wanda; her little brother for his.
Despite finding Alex a pain and being ensured her 'new' brother will be sweet as pie, Wanda firmly refuses.
The strangers laugh and the older one proclaims that they don't need her permission anyway, they were just being polite.
Before they can say anything else Wanda takes Alex home.

Back at their house Wanda notices something strange about her brother.
She discovers it's a changeling that looks exactly like Alex.
The creature makes her forget everything, but later on when he's brushing his teeth she sees that he has no reflection in the mirror.
She remembers everything and flees to grandma Liddl's house, who comforts her.
Grandma Liddl explains that the creature is indeed a changeling from Illys, the Land Under The Earth, The First Land Where Everything Is Different.
Thousands of years ago everyone lived there but now most of the ways leading there have been shut down.
It turns out there is a gateway in Wanda's own house and that Alex was kidnapped by minister Cheshire to be used in his political games, as a candidate to become gnik.

Grandma Liddl uses a spell to turn back into her young self. After all, you can't go on an adventure with 150-year-old legs.
Armed with Alex' favourite toy Zill, a stuffed Godzilla, they open the door to the stairs that will lead them to Illys.

'The sky is black, the moon is gone
and softly mews the mouse,
My dear girl, now is the time
to descend on the stairs
A thousand steps that lead below
and in Illys you'll arrive!'

After racing down the stairs on pillows they refuse Charon's 'generous' offer to take them over the Nethersea for 500 gold pieces and drift off on an inflatable mattress, guided by Zill.
During their little boat ride they have to fight off a cloud of flying shrimp, three flying whales and Anubis, who all seem to have been sent by Cheshire.
They're 'saved' by flying (and rather sadistic) dolphins who drop them on the Undeserted Island.
There, they're taken in by the rather plump lifeguard, who gives them drugged lemonade and intends to keep them there until the minister arrives with his cash reward.
They escape with help from some moths and the lifeguard's own lemonade.

With some luck they get on a boat that will take them to the city Alex is being kept in, being mistaken for old ladies rather than teenagers as everything is the opposite in Illys.
Unfortunately minister Cheshire shows up and they leave the ship by jumping down into the river of rolling stones. They arrive in a strange forest, where all the Master Dreamers roam.
From there it isn't long before they come upon Madrettor, with its earth scrapers that reach deep into the earth.

They're mobbed by a gang of grampa's, but before the punks can do anything Zill spits out fire and forces them to drive himself, Wanda and Alice to the earth scrapers that house V.I.N.'s, Very Important Northlanders.
They bluff their way into Alex' room but are stopped by Cheshire who threatens them with eternal imprisonment for trying to kidnap a gnik candidate.
Alice counters his arguments by pulling out Alex's library card, stating that the inhabitants will not be pleased to find out he's a four-year-old human from the world above.
Cheshire drops them off at the land wash.

As they're pushing their mattress into the sea rushing to get back to the stairs before the sun comes up and they disappear, a Master Dreamer (who's dreaming he's a cop) puts them to sleep for not paying their fares and being awake in the Woods of Dreams.
When they finally wake up they have mere seconds to reach a different staircase leading back to the world above.
They barely make it and find themselves in the basement of Wanda and Alex' aunt.
They'll have some explaining to do...

De trap naar de Nederzee
Tais Teng

This book was written in English originally.
The publisher who it was written for thought it was too scary to be children's literature and didn't take it (but later went on to publish the Goosebumps series...).
Years later, Tais Teng translated the entire book into Dutch and made some adjustment to give the story a quicker and smoother flow.

Grandma Liddl is of course based on Alice from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and there are a few more references to the book as well.


And so, ladies and gentlemen, we kick off our month of Halloween celebration, with thanks to Death, Books and Tea!
There will be 9 drawings in total and the whole event will come to a close with our giveaway.
I've started with this one as it's the one I'm least pleased about.
Anubis looks... Awkward. 
To say the least.
But then again, who wouldn't be awkward faced with Echo?


Gabriel said...

The story sounds pretty fun and adventurous, like a kid book should.
I like the way you drew Anubis, looks awesome, especially his torso and his props. The flying shrimp are nice, but I wish i knew more about the sadistic dolphins.
If this is your least favorite i can't wait to see the next ones.

Laury Coenen said...

It's actually one of my favourite books, I'm just not entirely happy with how Anubis' arms look in proportion to his body.

As for the dolphins, they have wings and frown, save 'stupid idiots from drowning' and dump said people on the Undeserted Island.
They're only obliged to save you once though, so you best not drown again.

Oh, and dropping you from mind boggling heights only to catch you seconds away from splattering to death is their idea of fun.

Gabriel said...

haha! awesome.

David said...

The dolphins then abandon you and say "So long, and thanks for all the fish!" Oh wait, wrong book. :) Did you know that the original Resident Evil movie is based on Alice In Wonderland also? Alice goes into a looking glass that opens into a passage this version. She goes through a harrowing fast decent, like the fall into the tree, she arrives in Wonderland (Umbrella's Raccoon city facility), there is a red queen, the chasing zombies are the guards, ect.

Oh, I don't see anything wrong with Anubis btw.

Laury Coenen said...

Thanks David :)

And now that you mention it, of course it's based on Alice!
I've never really thoroughly read the book but the connection should be easily made.
You've actually given me an idea for another drawing, hmm...

David said...

Sweet! Echo through the looking glass. She would just smash through the glass though wouldn't she? :)