A fast-moving adventure reveals why 11-year-old Izzy has always felt like a bit of an outsider—but provides a sense of belonging too.
Upset by her family’s latest move, Izzy is tired of looking after her younger sister, Henrietta. But when Hen is lured away by a magical piper, Izzy goes in pursuit. She lands in the world of Faerie, where a motley group of outsiders joins the quest to rescue her sister. Both plot and characters feel familiar. There’s the rescue effort; the not-entirely-enthusiastic companions (Lug, a large, furry, friendly creature; Selden, a surly, clever boy; and Dree, the suspicious ghost of a girl/fairy); and the villain, an evil queen with a thirst for eternal youth. Most characters are apparently white except for Selden, who has “deep brown skin and unruly black hair.” Pursued by Unglers, creatively described and utterly unappealing predators, the four find their way into Avhalon with a little help from a fearful but friendly farmer/inventor. Unfortunately, while the plot moves along quickly and some details are entertaining, Izzy’s character isn’t particularly well-defined. The big reveal, when it comes, is hardly unexpected, and the rushed ending feels perfunctory.
A pleasant diversion for fans of fairy tales, like Izzy, but not quite enough to capture the interest of a wider audience. (Fantasy. 9-12)