An ordinary girl, an unquenchable itch, a bizarre, spontaneously appearing flower-shaped ankle tattoo—and suddenly, four days before October Fetterhoff's 18th birthday, she begins to change.
The seemingly ordinary white teen is becoming stronger and more agile, can even see in the dark and understand animals and birds. These emerging powers come in handy since somebody is after her and she doesn't know who or why in this well-crafted and gripping quest tale that involves adversarial trolls and fairies and a mysterious evil that threatens to take over two kingdoms, with October in the middle. Told in the first person with understated humor, what begins as a realistic story quickly shifts. October’s affectionate, jokester father, an obese recovering alcoholic, hires a hypnotist to help him lose weight and becomes zombielike; blond, white Walker, one of two incredibly handsome new boys at school who now pursue her, helps October "transplant" through walls when she is attacked by crows and chased by slobbers (troll pets); her Latina friend goes missing, as does her mom, a mycologist. In an auspicious debut for teens, adult author Wagman (Life #6, 2015, etc.) proves particularly adept at mixing genres and maintains a terrific balance between fantastical (and occasional macabre) happenings and genuine teen perceptions.
Offbeat while also incorporating themes of tolerance, October's tale will have readers rooting for her every step of the way. (Fantasy. 12 & up)