by Bridget Zinn
Middle School Hyperion 280 pp.
3/13 978-1-4231-3993-5 $16.99 g
Sixteen-year-old Kyra is a girl with more than her share of secrets. Living in the world of witches, dwarves, potion masters, shape shifters, and the like, she is reluctant to trust anyone, even her best friend and the future queen, Ariana. Readers learn early on that Kyra has attempted to murder Ariana, and we spend the rest of the book trying to figure out why Kyra shot a deadly potion at her…and why, when she has never missed a target, she missed that one. Twists and turns, including dramatic cliffhanger chapter endings, quick getaways, disguises, tricked-out witches, a princess-seeking pig, and one especially clever and handsome boy make this a fine rollicking adventure from start to finish. The author’s use of thoroughly modern language in a magical setting adds to the charm. The characters are complicated and act in flawed human ways, making mistakes in judgment that make the plot twists all the more realistic. Kyra and Ariana are strong girls in the Vesper Holly tradition — not giving in to sexist social requirements and, thank goodness, never fighting over Fred, the love interest. Zinn has crafted a marvelous tale, more Harry Potter than Twilight. Readers will be sad that, due to her untimely death, Zinn’s promising debut novel will be her last.
From the March/April 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.