In this YA fantasy, a dedicated heroine visits a faery realm in search of a missing friend.
Junior year of high school has just ended for Michigan teens Alexis Dearborn and Molly Connolly. One night, they sneak from Alexis’ house to a party in a wealthy neighborhood. Alexis isn’t the partying type, so at the home of rich girl Cassi, she hops in the pool for some alone time. But a spiky-haired boy begins asking her strange questions, like whether or not Molly has any siblings or cousins. After a few days attached at the hip, Alexis and Molly end up at the latter’s home, where the teen has a fight with her mother over borrowing the car. Alexis knows her parents won’t mind if her best friend stays with them until things cool down, so Molly packs a bag. The next morning, Molly is nowhere to be found. Without a note or text to go on, Alexis believes that her friend has been taken. After the police imply that Molly ran away, Alexis hunts for her in the nearby woods. She meets two shape-shifters, a female fox named Jynx and a male wolf named Jaxith, who agree to escort her to Tír na nÓg—the Faery Realm—to search for Molly. Opening a new series, Ridge (The Other Side of the Story, 2018, etc.) uses faery folklore to explore ideas of friendship, loyalty, and self-confidence. When Jaxith agrees to guide and protect Alexis, he also asks that her vibrant red curls be his reward. She readily trades what some might call her finest feature for a chance to find Molly, even if her friend is in the fae world by choice. The ways in which male characters—including Sirius the elf and Keir, prince of the Dark Court—might claim Alexis as a prized consort are by turns foul and alluring. Throughout, the author shows a flair for celebrating fae oddities, as when Alexis sees someone apparently wearing peacock feathers only to realize that they’re growing from the person. Readers should find the narrative well-balanced, with characters and concepts never inundating the plot.
An appealing series opener that promises more romance and fae intrigue to come.