In this YA fantasy debut, superpowered twins attend a prestigious academy while investigating their father’s death.
Fourteen-year-old twins CJ and Nikki Andrews are Deviants, able to manifest fire and ice, respectively. Eight years ago, their father, Todd, died while on security duty at Navia’s Academy for Preternaturals in Winona, Illinois. Sam, the twins’ mother, is now ready to send them to the school so they can train to harness their powers. The handsome, athletic CJ basks in the attention of his new female classmates. The introverted Nikki researches the details surrounding their father’s death by gunshot wound, starting with the Ghost Scarlet, a Deviant who uses her ability to run a terrorist cult. Despite meeting colorful students and staff, like teacher Jacob Lucas and security guard William Milord, the siblings bridle at the academy’s structure. A mental block keeps CJ from manifesting fire at will, and he receives the embarrassing rank of 3.8, eliminating him from playing sports. An emergency lockdown, meanwhile, earns Nikki detention as she attempts to learn more about the Ghost Scarlet’s recent activities. New friendships form throughout the school year, but the twins also learn the truth behind Mr. Lucas’ words when he says, “The forces against us and our nation now are...beyond anything America has faced before.” In her novel, Carter splices some X-Men DNA with that of Harry Potter to give fantasy fans a school where anything can happen. Teachers at Navia have exotic animal familiars, like Ms. Holly’s clouded leopard, Cinya. The twins are enjoyably snarky with each other, as when discussing the X-shaped scar on Mr. Milord’s face (“it’s a safe bet that his hands didn’t slip while he was shaving”). Weekend visits with their mother are endearing, but catching her up on events at school sometimes hampers the narrative. Carter’s tiered power system—with the elements fire, ice, water, electricity, and acid coming first, followed by rare Special Abilities like telekinesis—is presented clearly for evenhanded exploration. The relationship that blossoms between CJ and Mr. Milord offers fans a further juicy mystery.
A deliberately paced school tale of friendship, elemental intrigue, and danger.