A 12-year-old white girl, newly enrolled in a venerable London private school and mourning the death of her best friend, discovers a secret tied to the school and its founder—an ancestor of hers.
Livy is feeling ungrounded—literally—after the death of her best friend from leukemia when her father accepts a job as librarian at the ancient Temple College school and, to her distress, Livy is enrolled. From the window of her tower bedroom, Livy can see a Sentinel—one of seven carved figures that grace the roof of the school. When the statue seems to move, Livy, unbelieving, crosses the rooftops with gravity-defying ease to investigate. There, she has an overpowering urge to step off into the sky, until a mysterious boy pulls her back. When she learns that Peter Burgess, her ancestor and Temple College’s founder, was obsessed with trying to make blood light enough to enable a person to fly, she begins probing. Scenes describing Livy’s light-as-air–ness are convincing, as is her well-developed emotional range. Secondary characters (all seem white), however, tend toward one-dimensional. The climax, twining themes of love, gravity, and time, is not wholly convincing, and there’s too much final explaining, giving the end a wrapped-up feel.
An original plot that hints at depths it doesn’t quite reach but works fairly well overall. (Fantasy. 10-14)