Faced with the essential paradox of prophecy—if you see the future, can you change it?—14-year-old Lizzy Mortimer races to save the people whose deaths she foresees and prevent Doomsday in this uneven modern-day Arthurian tale.
Like all the women on her father’s side, Lizzy sees her first “death-specter” at the age of 14. Understandably upset, Lizzy finds help from her aphorism-spouting, Creole spice–loving Grandma Bizzy. When feuding enchantresses from Avalon start appearing in the twee coastal town of Crabapple, Calif., searching for the Last Descendent, Lizzy uncovers the Arthurian origins of her “Hand of Fate” and the high stakes for her amateur sleuthing. Lizzy comes off as younger than 14, even when crushing on high-school senior Drake Westfall, and high-school issues such as bullying, learning disabilities and overbearing/abusive parents receive a heavy-handed treatment. Spunky Bizzy outshines less well-developed characters, but Lizzy begins to blossom in the last few pages. The novel is written as a make-up final paper for English class, with literary techniques—transitions, setting and climax—explained in each chapter, and this framing device distracts from the central action. Despite a robbery subplot and an increasing number of rules about Lizzy’s new “gift,” foreshadowing is rampant and the end predictable.
Readers looking for rebooted mythology should stick with Rick Riordan. (Paranormal adventure. 10 & up)