In a society where everyone has a neatly defined magical talent, Nory is a misfit.
There are Flares, Fuzzies, Flickers, and Flyers, each having particular skills. Nory is a Fluxer, able to transform herself into an animal. But her magic is wonky. Her kitten mixes with a beaver or a dragon, and she has no control over it. When she fails the entrance exam for her father’s school, Nory feels that she is a complete failure. Her father sends her to live with her aunt to attend a school that has an experimental class for students whose magic doesn’t fit the prescribed methods. Her aunt is welcoming, accepting, and loving. With the guidance of her very wise teacher, Nory makes friends with other children who are dealing with all sorts of uncontrolled magic. After many false starts and a brave adventure, she learns to embrace her out-of the-norm gifts. The authors nicely balance interesting and original magic elements with family and middle school dynamics. Likable Nory is prickly, needy, and determined as she rebounds from every disappointment, but her relationship with her father is a constant source of pain that is never resolved. The narrative voice is not omniscient, never reaching beyond 10-year-old Nory’s emotional understanding.
Readers will recognize much that is familiar and appealing in this alternate universe. (Fantasy. 8-12)