Despite his wish to be able to fly, Gwyn is confused and frightened—and quickly becomes exhausted—when an owl mysteriously appears and guides him to a boat piloted by his Nana, who reveals that all the fanciful stories his mother ever told him are true. What follows is a frenetic adventure. Danger lurks around every corner—the father of a friend tracks him with seemingly nefarious intent, and Gwyn encounters a cursed summer camp counselor, a demon dog, and a mass of blue zombies in the woods by his Nana’s house. But during the journey, he learns secrets about himself, and his Nana too, that give him a chance to feel hope again.
Though the writing is engaging, Ristau’s plot races from point to point so quickly that the tale is slightly disjointed, with major developments not always having time to breathe. As a result, there’s very little character building, especially with the large cast of friends that accompany Gwyn on his adventures. Brian W. Parker’s illustrations—which include scenes from Gwyn’s past—help with the pacing, particularly those depicting time spent with Gwyn’s mother, producing a grounding effect and cementing his character during breaks in the action. Despite his supernatural gift, tweens will find Gwyn relatable, and the story is packed with action as mystery and magic converge.
Takeaway: Tweens with a sense of adventure will be swept away by this magical tale of a boy who discovers he has supernatural abilities.
Great for fans of: Madeleine L’Engle, Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A