by Kersten Hamilton
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt /Clarion
Available November 15
Reviewed originally in July
Received an advance review e-book
through NetGalley with the expectation that any review would be fair.
I first reviewed this book in July, and loved it. I think Kersten is a major talent. She is doing a giveaway the second week of November on this blog. So stay tuned for more details!
Teagan is a young woman with a plan that does not involve scary adventures and falling in love with any boy. Her plan is working at the zoo and studying hard to get into Cornell Veterinary Science program. The plan starts to go awry when her friend, Abby, has a dream about Teagan being attacked by goblins and then her “cousin” Finn moves in with their close and loving family. Despite the obvious attraction Teagan has a plan and it does not involve him. But, sometimes your plans go off the tracks and just getting back to normal, just getting back home, is all you can hope for.
Written with an edge I don’t normally see in Young Adult books, there is no surety of a happy ending in this tale. Adding to the edge is the mix of Teagan’s uncanny abilities to put animals and people back together and learning about her mother’s and cousin’s heritage as Irish Travelers, the hard way. Teagan has a very young brother with an eidetic memory, an amazing sense of direction and magic that he wields through song. The veterinary science and Irish Traveler angles are unique and creative.
There is some threat of violence, some actual violence, and a powerful relationship building between the two protagonists but no sexual innuendo other than asking for a kiss. The violence is mostly suggested and in self-defense.
I really liked how the author brought the book to its end; it got there properly. Too often I find endings occur because an author seems to lose interest or the thread of the story. This is not the case here. The book is well crafted and as a continuity freak I don’t recall anything that really glared at me. I felt the author constructed her fantasy world very carefully. Teagan and her brother accept the existence of the supernatural very quickly; but then they do get some empirical proof it would be hard to ignore.
The relationship between Teagan and Finn is one that is built on the need to trust and the deep feeling of rightness they feel together. They need each other to make it through the other world and there is no good witch to show them the way. Teagan and Finn are flawed; Teagan learns how flawed she is during their adventure. But they are good, mature and responsible teens without being goody-two-shoes.
Teagan’s brother, Aiden, plays a major role getting them through the magical wood they must survive to perform a rescue. Aiden and Teagan are close, but the real meat is the relationship between Teagan and Finn, and how they handle it.I really enjoyed reading this book – at 300 or so pages it is the perfect weekend read that will make you wish the rest of the series was already available.