Teens with newfound powers may be the only ones who can stop an ancient evil from rising in Echlin (Gone, 2002) and Watrous’ (If You Follow Me, 2010) supernatural mystery.
Laurel Goodwin gets worried when she awakens one morning and sees big sis and bestie Ivy isn’t in their Airstream trailer in Cascade, Oregon. Ivy’s note still leaves Laurel anxious since the handwriting doesn’t quite match her sister’s. She and mom Sheila, however, are reluctant to involve authorities, fearing Child Protective Services will reopen Sheila’s old negligence case and split the family apart. Ivy’s friends haven’t seen her, and hunky new kid in school, Jasper Blake, is also looking for her. He’s been “tutoring” her, and Laurel’s shocked to learn both Ivy and Jasper have special abilities. This validates Laurel’s ominous dream in which Ivy displays her power—as a masked man’s kidnapping victim. According to an ancient prophecy, an evil force called Druj will rise during a lunar eclipse unless four people with special powers unite. Such powers could also help find Ivy. Unfortunately, two possibilities are Cascade’s resident mean girls, Peyton Andersen and Mei Rosen, who may be disinclined to help if for no other reason than spite. Supernatural teens in literature are old hat, but Echlin and Watrous inject their novel with zeal and ingenuity. Characters, for one, are expertly drawn. Jasper can’t be one of the select four since his power, as he enigmatically states, has caused harm. Similarly, Laurel’s first-person voice intermittently gives way to perspective from Peyton and Mei, providing both with much-needed sympathy. The narrative playfully reveals supertalents one at a time while the greatest mystery is who the demon-esque Druj will inhabit, if it hasn’t already done so. There are perhaps a few too many references to Jasper’s “incredible” green eyes or Ivy’s beauty. Despite this, potential romance between Laurel and Jasper is superbly understated, and the ending even teases a sequel.
A fresh, enthusiastic, and wholly satisfying take on a familiar subgenre.