Tor, 2004 (2004)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
hirteen-year-old tree hugger Alison Warner still grieves for her mother, lost to a mysterious fiery accident. Her father, a long distance trucker, is almost always on the road, leaving Ali free to engage in adventure. An attempt at activism, to protest logging, leads her into the mountain forest, where she's stalked by what seem to be '
' with bad breath, and barely foils ongoing attempts on her life that leave her in cliffhanging situations.
telepathic tree (temporary manifestation of a being named Nemo) tells Ali that her name's Alosha, that she's being tested, and that passing the tests will give her strength and new abilities to fight an enemy from her nightmares, '
'. Nemo sends Ali on a race against time to save humanity from an incursion from another dimension of elementals - including '
Dwarves, elves, fairies, trolls, leprechauns
' - who are mad at us for '
' and who are led by Lord Vak, King of the elves. Alosha must close '
a magical gate called the Yanti
' on top of the mountain peak.
or this tough task, she enrolls her best friend Cindy; short and '
' Steve who's her oldest friend but would like to be more; and Karl, '
the smartest guy in the school
', whom Ali rather fancies herself. Karl believes her story, while the other two humor her and chafe under her leadership. Along the way, their fellowship is joined by two unlikely allies with mixed loyalties - Paddy the leprechaun and a troll whom they name Farble. The group is pursued and attacked by dark fairies, and a disastrous choice inside the mountain causes Ali to despair.
is a powerful urban fantasy with a strong heroine and a deep vein of environmental concern running through it. I enjoyed the time warp plot device, the clever revelation of the traitor, and the surprise for our heroine at the ending. Though I found Ali's true identity and powers gave too much of a
deus ex machina
resolution to this first episode, I look forward to more in an exciting series.
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