In an everyday modern school, a girl who lost her parents to monsters meets a monstrously strange boy.
Bavar’s a friendless, “sallow” boy in an ordinary school. He has a powerful ability to avoid notice until he meets Angel, a new girl living with a foster family. Angel, who misses her dead parents constantly, sees through Bavar’s reality-warping glamour to his uncanny reality: he’s 7 feet tall with pointed teeth. Bavar, she discovers, lives in a gargoyle-adorned Gothic pile of a house where he fights massive winged beasts. Bavar’s gruesome opponents, in fact, look exactly like the fell creatures who killed Angel’s parents last year. Though Bavar wants to avoid the fate of all in his magical family—spending a lifetime battling the poison-clawed raksasa—Angel proposes a more permanent solution. In Bavar’s sentient home, peopled by his loving aunt and uncle and the (both hair-raising and supportive) talking portraits of his ancestors, they seek answers. The growing humor and affection between these two awkward protagonists create an appealing contrast with the choppy, gloomy prose. Ham-handed Americanization of this novel (first published in England as A Far Away Magic) has left the setting a muddle, with American vocabulary inconsistently plunked into British-sounding sentences. Bavar and his family are white-appearing in their human guises; Angel is white.
A solid friendship tale for fans of eerie fantasy. (Fantasy. 10-12)