Nightsweats in Bigelow Hollow, written by M.J. Claire, is the first in an engaging new fantasy series for young adults. Realistic themes of family, love and animal cruelty run throughout this tale of personal growth and magical adventure.
It's Halloween night and Kelly Black is walking home. She takes a route that cuts through a deserted park. Distracted by thoughts of her parents divorce she's startled by a strange noise and is relieved to see it's only a black cat. Kelly loves animals and plans to be a veterinarian. She attempts to pick up the cat but it claws the back of her hand and runs off. The park is full of ominous shadows and eerie noises that frighten Kelly. She takes off running, falls and passes out. When she wakes up in her bedroom, she assumes she was dreaming but the scratches on her hand tell another story. Badly frightened, Kelly goes back to sleep. When she wakes up again she's back in the park. The black cat appears but this time it speaks to her. Fagan is an animelf, one of an ancient elfin people who have the ability to take animal form. He reveals startling news about her true heritage and her evil-doing dad. It's time for Kelly to confront her destiny and right the wrongs committed by her father.
The author has created a well-drawn world with a magical yet believable culture and three-dimensional characters. The heroes are compelling and likeable and there are numerous quirky characters such as shape-shifting elves and mountain dwelling trolls. Although Kelly is a college student and there is a hint of a budding romance, her dialogue and actions make her appear younger. Could just be me, the young people I know are very mature for their age. I would have liked to see more about Kelly's mother since she figures prominently in the story line but I'm assuming she will appear in the next book. Intriguing conflicts and a quick pace will keep young readers engrossed. It is a promising beginning to a new series.
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: March Books; marchbooks.com
Publication Date - 8/1/09
Paperback: Pages 148