Nic's childhood is far from typical. She is being homeschooled and raised by her single father. Dad is an exiled "Remarkable", possessing magical talents, and must flee whenever an "Unremarkable" catches him performing his craft. This has made it tricky forging relationships, but things have been different in Jackson, Mississippi. Here has Nic has made a best friend, a preacher's kid named JD and she and Dad have plugged into the local magical community. As Nic turns twelve she knows that it's finally time for Dad to teach her how to wield her magic, only he puts her off yet another year. Why won't he teach her? Meanwhile, Nic and JD's favorite author is in town and she is forbidden to go to a local signing. Our fearless hero takes matters into her own hands, unleashing a series of events including hitting the road to fight the forces of evil and the discovery of Nic's true identity. Nic learns who to trust as she must use her reasoning skills and any resources she can muster to save the day and protect those she loves. Does Nic have what it takes to be a hero?
A magical story based on African-American folklore and history, this new trilogy starter has a lot to offer fantasy fans. The magical bits remind me of Harry Potter, yet the folklore element and non-stop action are more reminiscent of Percy Jackson. The dashing around and plot twists don't stop. I could have used a bit of quiet contrast to catch my breath, but it's not that sort of book and young readers will appreciate the adrenaline-induced plot. I liked the characters enough and found the magical creatures interesting. The book felt like it ran a little long and I started to get bored in places, but today's fantasy readers will not be deterred by length. Another negative for me was that I confused some of the words that Thomas uses (such as Msaidizi and Manowari) and thought that maybe a glossary would be useful. I applaud Thomas, who is a very successful young adult author, in spreading her wings and giving middle grade a try. I am sure that this book will find an audience and readership, it just didn't quite land with me. A cliff-hanging ending with some foreshadowing leads the reader to the second volume (yet to be released) in this projected trilogy.