Zanna Mayfield’s life changes when she’s accepted to the St. Pommeroy’s School for Gifted Children.
After a bizarre false start, the studious white girl is visited by a Dr. Mumble, who reveals to her that she has the power to manipulate the laws of the universe, and in order to learn about them, she must commit to attending St. Pommeroy’s, which is located on a secret island. Before she departs for it, a mysterious woman appears in Zanna’s bedroom and asks her to sign a contract to never attend St. Pommeroy’s; Zanna refuses. Mysteriously, everyone at the school knows that Zanna has been visited by this woman; perhaps it’s a metallurgical illusion? Along with navigating this strange, new school, Zanna must worry about why she, of all of the students, has been chosen by this seemingly nefarious entity. From the start, the story jumps into dizzying discussions of physics, metallurgy, and other sciences at this secret school. St. Pommeroy’s feels an awful lot like Hogwarts, with its exciting course work and eccentric instructors (unfortunately, some descriptions move beyond eccentricities into stereotype). The slow pace takes an unexpected metaphysical turn that leads Zanna to a twist that’s closer to home than she could have imagined—and that leads readers into what feels like a completely different book. The scientific details that explain the twist may have the potential to excite a physicist, but they leave lay readers juggling science and metaphysics as if the book doesn’t know its audience.
Jarring, disconnected, even at times nonsensical. (Science fiction. 10-14)