My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I remember the last Lackey book I read. I was picking up my parents from their 25th anniversary. I'm approximately two weeks shy of it being their big 50th so it's been awhile. I will say that this doesn't get high marks on originality but over all I liked it well enough. Of course there will be Harry Potter comparisons drawn since both have schools of magic (just as there were between Harry and his forerunner, Tim Hunter from DC/Vertigo's Books of Magic).
Spirit White just went through the worst thing a teen can: the loss of her entire family in a car accident and she herself nearly died (someone has a warped idea of how long physical therapy will take, just saying. Nowhere near this short). Spirit finds herself sprung from the rehab hospital and shuttled in to Oakhurst with another young orphan, Loch. Unlike her and her hippie parents, he is from money but they get on well.
Oakhurst is part orphanage and part magical training school. Loch and Spirit meet a few new friends, Muirin the illusionist, Addie, the water witch heiress and Burke, the combat mage. Loch turns out to be able to find his way anywhere and know things by touching them. Spirit's magic never comes (at least not in this book). Oakhurst is highly competitive and doesn't encourage friendships. In fact it seems to want them isolated and is definitely isolated from the wider world being in the middle of Montana and off the web.
As Spirit tries to adjust to life without her baby sister, Phoenix and her parents, and slowly getting the idea that there is a whole world out there that is filled with enemy witches (who probably killed her parents and a lot of the other kids parents), she and the others become aware that kids are going missing. Now why Muirin, Addie and Burke never noticed before (since a few of them have been there a while and Spirit should have noticed Burke lost his family and his family home in exactly the same way she did but this doesn't seem to impact her) can only be explained by 'it wasn't one of my friends so who cares.'
But Muirin's boyfriend (sort of) is the one to go and then another friend at Halloween and this gets their attention. It didn't take much to figure out what was going on (but obviously if my parents are celebrating 50 years together you can guess I'm a lot older than the target audience so I've seen this before a hundred times). I recognized the Wild Hunt right off.
Naturally like in most YA's the adults are useless so the kids have to stop it. No one over thirty can be trusted after all and in this case who could blame them. Kids have been disappearing for forty years from this place. The group has a deadline. They have to figure out what is going on and stop it before the winter solstice.
Overall, it's enjoyable but like I said, not tremendously original. what really bugged me was the end. I liked what they did with the Wild Hunt and how they dealt with it but the aftermath had me rolling my eyes. For one there are too many loose ends not tied up (guess that's for future books in the series) and the adults just don't seem to care. That really reminded me of Harry Potter to be honest. Oh look there are FORTY years worth of disappearing kids tithed to the Wild Hunt and even recorded as such but when the kids tell Dr. Ambroisius he goes 'fifty points to Gryffyndor.' Okay not really. He doesn't demerit any points for being outside after curfew and that's it. That drives me nuts about YAs. Often the adults have to be either oblivious or criminally negligent or just plain gone. In this they're all three. Oh well.
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