In this debut YA fantasy, a teen heroine searches for her missing mother and brother while mastering her newfound magical powers.
Teenager Carolyn McInally’s normal life changed the day that a portal appeared in her kitchen and her mother was pulled through it. Her brother, Eddie, was taken as well, and Carolyn has spent the last two years living alone in her family’s beach house in Scotland, gradually recovering from a strange, almost feral emotional state. Now that she’s fully aware once more, she’s beginning to understand her new life of answering “calls,” which involves jumping through gateways into other realms and killing demons. Carolyn learns that she’s wanted when government agents investigate her home and that someone named Ethan has an interest in her. Soon after, she’s called through a gateway to witness a confrontation between a man and a snakelike demon. The man is Ethan, who works for an organization called the Protectorate; he wants to train Carolyn, a “destroyer,” to help keep peace. But instead of killing the demon, Carolyn begins to like him and pulls him back through the gateway. Once on Earth, the demon changes into a handsome youth named Note who insists on serving Carolyn. Ethan tracks Carolyn down, adamant that she start training and join the Protectorate, but she rejects him, opting to search for her family—and bond with the beautiful Note—on her own terms. White offers an agile, endearing fantasy that fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will adore. Her description of the call is perfectly realized: “an irresistible melodic pull, as though it was a choral magnet and she a metal filing.” The narrative’s strongest suit is its playfully steamy romance between destroyer and demon: “She held his wrists above his head...[and] nipped the tip of his nose with her teeth.” The tale’s opening, though, feels choppy, with its location only hinted at and Carolyn’s many powers appearing with little warning. But once the novel introduces its major characters, the plot lifts off with a succession of nasty revelations. The conclusion will answers some readers’ questions as well as give them a strong urge for a sequel.
A romping debut that’s perfect for teenage fantasy fans.