A Winnipeg teenager discovers her magical heritage—and that she’s marked for death.
Roan, a white girl, was taken in by her uncle and aunt after her parents died in a car accident when she was little. When what seems to be a chronic eye infection explodes into moths, she’s nearly taken by the Moth Queen into death and only barely saved by a talking fox who can transform into a woman with a fox head, nine tails, and fire magic. Roan’s guided by the fox, Sil, who gives her a crash course in a creation mythology that involves five creatures, now families, who keep peace and balance destructive powers. As Ancient power waned, a Celestial Darkling, Zabor, came into prominence, and a pact to appease her requires the five families to make sacrifices: Roan’s been marked as such. Roan must finish the task her mother started—defeating Zabor to end the deal—or she will die. Roan is genre-savvy to the hero’s journey, an intelligent heroine who gladly accepts information and help, and she is deeply concerned with avoiding casualties. She must pull together a group with representatives from each family despite the mind-influencing Owls’ stubborn, self-appointed duty to ensure their end of the bargain is upheld. Secondary characters are vibrant and multicultural (an Indian best friend and allies that include a black boy who uses a wheelchair and an Inuit girl), and the heroes have refreshingly good hearts. A reveal at the end sets up a sequel.
A smart, complex, animal-based fantasy. (Fantasy. 12-16)