Seventeen-year-old Echo is an odd bird, but she soars in this urban fantasy.
Echo lives by two rules—don’t get caught, and if caught, run—but breaking them brings life-changing adventures. Ten years ago, when the Ala caught Echo picking her pocket, she brought the young thief into the underground world of the Avicen—a race of long-lived, partly feathered people. Echo now flits among the Avicen, trading favors, learning magic, and even snagging a boyfriend, Rowan, but she never feels like part of the flock. Splitting time between her illicit home/book hoard in the New York Public Library and travel around the world via magic powder and portals, Echo is rarely at rest, as if aware of her mortality. When she gets caught again, this time by the dragonlike Drakharin—the opponents of the Avicen in a long-running war—she undertakes a perilous journey to find the legendary firebird and, hopefully, peace. Grey’s energetic debut offers a strong protagonist with a delightfully snarky voice. Echo’s street-honed burglary skills and survival instincts are well-balanced by her (typical) teenage hormones and boundless enthusiasm. Her companions, Avicen Ivy and Jasper and Drakharin Caius and Dorian, are also entertaining, gaining depth by sharing the narrative spotlight—though the initial ping-pong switches between Echo and Caius are disorienting.
The well-built world, vivid characters, and perfect blend of action and amour should have readers eagerly seeking the sequel. (Fantasy. 14 & up)