New contemporary fantasy from the author of two interminable series, one about Shannara (First King of Shannara, 1996, etc.), the other set in a Magic Kingdom (Witches' Brew, 1995, etc.). In Hopewell, Illinois, 14-year-old Nest Freemark defends the town's ancient parkland against encroaching "feeders" (they feed on dark emotions) with the magic she inherited from her mysteriously dead mother and her drunken Gran, with whom she lives. Nest's helpers are Pick, a tiny, 150-year-old woody "sylvan"; Daniel the owl; and the eerie, wolflike Wraith. As July 4th approaches, a demon arrives in town, as does good-guy John Ross, Knight of the Word; Nest is the key to the looming good vs. evil showdown. But soon she begins to wonder why nobody will tell her the truth about her missing parents, or what's really going on in the park. The demon tempts Nest, then torments her, and finally tells her that he's her father! As Nest wavers, the demon tries to force the issue by killing Gran, capturing Pick, and exposing Wraith (whom Nest thought of as her faithful protector) as an elemental under his control. Thus deprived of her allies, how will Nest resist the demon? An intriguing and well-balanced scenario with believable characters, but undermined by unsurprising story developments and therefore little or no narrative tension.