Rya struggles in school, but she’s always had a natural gift for understanding animals and forecasting the weather. Her sense helps her save her class from the mudslide that engulfs their town. As she, her teacher and her class await help in the destroyed school, Rya silently begs for help and is surprised when someone answers: Aster and her dragon, Jasmine, are able to telepathically hear Rya’s distress call and come to her aid. Soon, other dragons, their riders and various magical creatures come to help the devastated village. Back at her farm, however, Rya finds out that her parents have been murdered. Her new magical friends—including Artemis, an injured fox pup with whom she bonds—stay with her and help Rya fix up the damaged farm while she completes her studies and tries to piece together the mystery of what happened to her parents. Though set in a fantasy world, this accessible novel incorporates elements of modern life. For instance, Rya’s difficulty in school can be partially attributed to dyslexia. Characters speak in modern voices, not in the stylized manner often found in high-fantasy novels; that said, speech at times falls short of being realistic, as when Rya says, “I’ve learned a lot this morning, but the best thing is that I’ve learned that learning can be fun.” Elsewhere, it’s difficult to understand why Rya and Artemis are allowed to take a walk by themselves—though Rya has survived being shot, and the man who killed her parents has been causing havoc at the farm. Back story also occasionally slows the story down, but that also means this can be read as a stand-alone book.
Should appeal to younger YA readers seeking an accessible fantasy and not disturbed by a few violent scenes.