In this YA fantasy debut, twins living in separate foster homes learn that magic is real when their father re-enters their lives.
Thirteen-year-old Peter hasn’t seen his twin sister, Rory, in seven years. Though both live in the town of Rutherford, he’s fostered by the abusive Judge Talbert, while Rory is with the Gallaghers. Peter toils away for Talbert, digging in tunnels to find “items of great power” left behind by “forgotten Gods” like Orion. Rory, meanwhile, enjoys a healthy adolescence, learning taekwondo and perfecting her Halloween costume. One morning, after dreaming about a “phoenix-like bird” that leads him to Rory, Peter wakes to find the creature outside his window. The bird next appears inside his attic bedroom, glowing and asking him to follow it. Then downstairs, a man named Kyros arrives, claiming to be Peter’s father. Talbert sends Kyros packing, and Peter decides to risk a thrashing by following the bird. Rory has similar experiences with a bird and a visit from her supposed father, which ultimately revolve around a dilapidated Victorian house that’s haunted in a way nobody expects. In this kaleidoscopic series opener, Rose juxtaposes a variety of genre elements to quirky effect. She infuses the orphan child travails of Harry Potter with Greek myth, ultimately bringing the twins to the planet Inara, where wizardry is the tool of a usurper to the throne. The author keeps the twins apart and ensnared by different alien factions and does a superb job of maintaining the tension as to which side is truly villainous. Peter’s otherworldly father, the Researcher, is tough but caring when he tells him, “You have skills other boys don’t—so stop being a weakling and step into your power.” The prose should be manna for YA action fans, as when Rory falls: “Wind rushed through her ears, drowning out all other sounds. Her stomach clenched, like the first drop on a roller coaster that never ended.” Access to secret tomes and the threat of imprisoned evil forces leave room for a sequel to flourish.
A complex, tightly plotted series opener that should enchant audiences.