"I suppose you are Jayde, the uncivilized, disrespectful, over-priviliged, spoiled brat, correct?"

Protagonist Jayde Hendryk is a seemingly normal teenager with all the angst most teens feel as they negotiate life with parents they don't understand and are certain don't understand them. She feels her mother is unloving, and her father is, at best, a bully. However, Jayde is protective of her younger brother, seven-year-old Aric, which possibly stems from their father's propensity to be a hard taskmaster. When her mother uncharacteristically displays an unusual show of affection toward Jayde one fateful evening, she puts it out of her mind with no idea that soon tragedy will befall her family, changing her life in an instant.

Awakened by a thunderstorm later that night, she is surprised that her brother hasn't joined her in her room, as is his usual habit during a storm. Because of the storm's intensity, Jayde decides to check on him. What she finds is terrifying. She discovers her brother dead in his bed and her mother lying lifeless in the hallway with her father leaning over her. As Jayde tries to make sense of what she is seeing, a terrible suspicion grips her as she tries to unravel this tragedy. Overcome with fear and doubt concerning the deaths of her mother and brother, Jayde screams at her father, "What did you do?" As she and her father rush away in a waiting car, Jayde cannot know this is only the beginning of a long search for truth that will lead her down very unusual paths.

Walker creates a mystery filled with adventure and fantastical creatures perfect for intermediate readers as well as adults. Written in the first person, the story unfolds through Jayde's voice. And what a voice it is. The author's protagonist is smart, opinionated, courageous, and impulsive. Walker's grasp of the teen's dialogue and inner monologue is spot-on. Jayde's internal dialogue concerning her disdain for her parents is reminiscent of Holden Caufield, that most angsty of fictional teens in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Much as the beloved Holden has the ability to recognize the "phonies" when he sees them, Jayde is adept at a scathing assessment of what she perceives as phony. On her position as the black sheep of her family, she ponders, "I'm smart enough to see the flaws and brave—or maybe even foolish—enough to call my parents out on them…. As of such, we've grown an unusual relationship—they boast about my academic accomplishments in public while in private, they scorn me for everything I do or say. In retaliation, I admonish them for their failures at being caring, loving parents."

When Jayde relocates with her father, she encounters some interesting characters along the way to the strange land to which they go. Not only does she find kindness and protection in some of the people she meets, but she also becomes aware of the fantastical creatures who live in the area. When the assassin who murdered Jayde's mother and brother catches up with the pair, Jayde is forced to flee for her life, all the more determined to find the truth. Elements of fantasy are introduced during Jayde's journey to find the Fairy Queen, who she is told can answer her questions. She encounters ogres, goblins, fairies, and small childlike creatures called Hobbes, who possess large mouths filled with tiny sharp teeth. As Jayde unravels the mystery of her family tragedy, it becomes apparent that her life is to be filled with strange adventures. Walker's first offering in the Until Dawn series is a wonderful addition to fantasy fans' shelves. However, one need not be an aficionado of the genre to enjoy the intriguing storytelling offered here.

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