There Be Monsters Here. . .
It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.
I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.
But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .
Estep (the Mythos Academy series) opens the Black Blade series with an indulgently fun romp full of "lochness" monsters, tree trolls, and housekeeping pixies. Seventeen-year-old Lila Merriweather is a "modern-day Robin Hood," stealing from the wealthy individuals who make their living on the tourist "rubes" eager to see monsters, "magicks," and more in Cloudburst Falls, W. Va. Lila is content to live in the shadows, far from the warring dynasty families who run the town and the memory of her mother's murder. Yet a chance encounter leaves her with no choice but to protect the heir of a prestigious family, the handsome and mysterious Devon Sinclair. Using her hidden talents and street smarts to stay ahead of Devon's attackers, Lila uncovers unpredictable betrayals and a sense of home she never thought possible. Though background details are repetitive, and the romantic scenes between Devon and Lila can be a bit clich d, fierce Lila, talkative father figure Mo, and honeybeer-swilling pixie Oscar are well worth getting to know. Steeped in gripping action scenes, Estep's novel is a welcome twist on familiar fantasy themes. Ages 14 up.