Four teens must find their courage and their way home after a druid traps them in a magical land.
Middlefield is a middle-of-the-road Midwestern town with a secret: Local high school biology teacher Ms. Bridget is more than just a witch to her students; she’s a witch, period. More specifically, she is Brigara, a rogue druid who was cast out of a parallel fantasy universe centuries ago for practicing forbidden magic. Brigara lusts for revenge, and she has a plan. She will send four of her students—Jake, Seneca, Shayna and Connor—over the magical threshold that leads into her homeland, Fionia, and manipulate them into doing her bidding once they’re stuck inside. What Brigara doesn’t know is that these students have their own latent powers, and when they learn to control them, they will have the ability to bring her down once and for all. Picture book author Graham (Gabby Giggles, 2012) starts her YA debut with a bang; the opening scene depicting Brigara’s banishment is exhilarating. Understandably, the pace slows when Graham takes us to the real world to meet her four main characters, and the story nearly stalls out after they stumble into Fionia. From then on, various fairies give our young heroes plot-solving gifts like the titular Himalayan Crystals and shuttle the gang from scene to scene while lecturing them on Fionian history. The teens’ passivity robs the book of a sense of urgency. Shayna herself complains she feels like “a pawn in a strategic game.” At least ditzy Shayna adds some humor to the proceedings, and “gothic Tinker Bell” Seneca brings in some pathos and punk flavor. Jake, on the other hand, is something of a cipher, and one wonders why the omniscient narrator spent any time in the mind of meathead Connor. Scenes late in the book add some shading to these four characters, even if their climax is, well, anticlimactic.
A passable portal fantasy with some fun but passive characters.