Abby Beckett is no one special. Just a girl with a mother who’s deceased, a father who’s an English professor, and the legacy of being descended from the Aesir, elite warriors charged to defend the earth from monstrous creatures known as Grendels.
When Abby and her father are forced to flee to a Vale Hall, a safe haven that is also a school, Abby’s father is injured and left in a declining comatose state. With the aid of two new friends, Abby must navigate the mysterious school that holds secrets she could never have fathomed while staving off certain death and trying to find a legendary cure that will save her dad.
There’s a lot of action in this book! Funny and sarcastic, each scene propels the reader into a new adventure with hardly the chance to catch your breath. Abby is a nice mix of independent and unsure, which makes for a likable heroine. Perhaps my only complaint was that there were many instances where a scene felt “convenient,” existing only to helpfully assist Abby and her friends into the next phase of her journey. Since there’s a lot of action, there’s also a lot of violence or threatening moments, but nothing overly graphic or explicit (see Content Analysis for more details). Mostly the violence comes off as impending, or almost humorous. This is the type of the book that would appeal to anyone who has read the Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan, or the Artemis Fowl Books by Eoin Colfer.
Review of an Advance Reading Copy provided by the Publisher
Violence/Gore: Many instance of mild violence, including but not limited to: A character hears glass breaking in a house and suspects an intruder; a character is certain she has seen a monster; while driving, characters are caught in an unexpected snowstorm and pursued by a strange giant on a motorcycle; in an extended scene, characters are pursued along an icy road, they weave amongst traffic and try to hide next to a semi but are still pursued, a child has to drive while the parent unearths a giant crossbow and shoots at their pursuer, parent and pursuer exchange a couple volleys of shots and character is hit; a character is injured and taken away in an ambulance; a character suffers occasional nightmares (frightening); a character senses a presence behind a curtained window and when she goes to look she is startled by a sound behind her and hurls medical equipment at an intruder; a character occasionally suffers feelings of dread, panic, and helplessness; a character is given detention; a character attempts to bully another character 2-3 times; characters occasionally lie; characters step into a mysterious elevator, that plummets downward at a scary rate; a character sometimes gets angry and yells at a teacher; characters accidentally bet their souls in a game; in an extended scene; characters are attacked by a monster in a pool, a character is caught and waved around by a tentacle, a character tries to hit the monster with a ping pong paddle, another character dives into the pool to try and rescue the trapped character, a character manages to “explode” the monster with ping pong balls, in a scene that is a little nasty but not overly graphic or descriptive; a character tells the history of the Norse gods and the creation of the Grendels; characters sometimes argue and/or fight; many instances where character(s) feel impending danger or feel creeped out; a character overhears an apparent murder attempt; a character ends up on a boat and engages in a raid with warriors; there is a description of hand-to-hand combat, with many deaths implied but not written out; a character is bruised from combat; a character is informed that someone only has a little more time to live; a character is attacked by a familiar nemesis, briefly escapes and hides from it, and eventually throws a shovelful of coals in its face; characters fall through a strange portal into an underground cavern that leads to an apparent den; a character reveals itself as a threat; in an extended scene, characters engage in a potentially deadly battle, a character wields a weapon with abnormal powers, a character is grazed by a spear, a character taunts another character, a character is struck and knocked backward into a rock column and pinned by another character, a character slashes at another with a weapon, a chamber starts to break apart and characters are in danger of getting crushed, a character leaves a wounded enemy to help her friends escape, they are chased by rats and are saved by the final collapse of the cavern; a character’s injuries are treated with antiseptic; a boy charges into a girl and she knocks into a wall; repot of an ancient character tearing off a monster’s arms with his bare hands; implication that a danger is still alive and a threat.
Potentially terminal illness; death of a family member.
Drugs and Alcohol Use:
A character chews on a cigar; a character is shot full of magical sleeping thorns; a character pricks himself on a thorn; characters receive antidotal shots.