A high school junior discovers her werewolf heritage in this teen fantasy debut.
Sixteen-year-old Kyra lives in Butte, Montana, with her adoptive father, Caleb. One strange aspect of their relationship is that Caleb and Kyra can communicate telepathically. The other is that she doesn’t remember her life before he took her in six years ago—nor the accident that broke her right leg, making it shorter than the left. For junior year, Kyra’s given herself a startling punk makeover to offset the awkwardness of her leg brace. But high school bullies, led by Selene Hunter, still make her life hell: on the bus ride to school, while the two girls are shoving each other, Kyra’s locket snaps from her neck. She scoops up the gift from Caleb but has to exit the bus because her skin is blistering. Then, in the nearby woods, Kyra transforms into a giant wolf. Later, Caleb explains that the locket contains wolfsbane, to halt the transformations and keep her hidden, because there are those who would hunt Kyra for her regenerative abilities. Memories of her first 10 years as a wolf have already started returning, however, in addition to incredible hearing and smelling capabilities. Can Kyra stay ahead of the hunters long enough to sniff out her mother and sister? Debut author Kennedy dives into the crowded genre with a juicy, humorous yet violent offering. Clever prose—as when Kyra doesn’t want “to be somebody the bullies could pick their teeth with”—maintains the high school atmosphere while foreshadowing gory action. The transformation scenes are perfectly reminiscent of legendary films such as An American Werewolf in London: Kyra says, “The skin on my face stretched to its limits and then cracked open.” Surprisingly, Kyra’s tale wraps up early and is followed by a second starring her sister in a fresh series of locations. Kennedy entwines the stories by using far-reaching villains, including the werewolves’ rivals, the Wind Folk. Ultimately, the tight focus on lore-building (such as wolf superhealing, unless injured by another wolf) should ensnare audiences.
A focused debut that’s as funny as it is violent.