A successful screenwriter (Dirty Pretty Things
) and game-show developer (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
) produces a sprawling, messy, uncompelling fantasy with no pacing and a patchwork of ideas that never cohere into a story. It is told in the first person by Toby, who is 14 1/2 when the tale begins, completely paralyzed and living in a British Carmelite convent cared for by nuns. He has a vivid imagination, though, as well as a cat, and the cat turns into a catlike person named Egil who frees him from his paralysis and silence and takes him to Iceland, thence to the magical Langjoskull. Toby learns in this world of gold and lava that he is the descendant and heir of Will Wolfkin, as is a fierce young girl from Sudan named Emma; together, the two of them are to defeat the evil Helva Gullkin and save the world. They learn to shapeshift. They get chased and hide. Toby says, "my intuition told me," far more often than any 14-year-old boy would, whether or not he's attended intuition class. In the end, they may have saved Langjoskull, but Toby ends up right where he started. (Fantasy. 8-12)Read full book review >