Eleven-year-old Iris already has strikes against her: she's the new kid in town, and her quirky behaviors involve repetitive rituals and actions that have, in the past, been labeled an illness.
Now she knows they're something more: they are instinctive reactions to her strange and evolving abilities, and they hold the power to alert her of future disasters. That's why she was able to save a young girl from a peculiar car accident, and why she sees things others don't.
The first thing to note about this captivating fantasy is that it's liberally peppered with full-color (and well-done) illustrations that enhance its story line. From autos in the woods to strange mischievous beings, Fairalon is packed with visual interludes that enhance the story without taking it over completely. Middle-grade readers will thus appreciate the enhancements which create visual interest in Iris's adventures.
The second notable feature of Fairalon is an attention to supplementing a fantasy adventure feel with the realistic saga of a young girl's evolving perceptions of her powers, her world, and whom she can trust. Fueled by strong psychological insights and solid character development, it's a story young readers will empathize with as they read about Iris's unusual challenges.
Fairalon excels in a steady plot that offers several twists and turns and much insight on not just the origins of inherited traits, but choices in how power is wielded.
Middle school fantasy fans will be enthralled as Iris' world expands in unanticipated directions. It should be mentioned that its conclusion paves the way for more books, yet completes her story in a manner that is satisfying and exact, making for a fine introduction to what might become a series. An exciting blend of adventure, psychological insight, and beautiful illustrations make Fairalon a prime pick in its genre.