The Sunday Book Review: Finding Angel, by Kat Heckenbach
Posted by Lisa Lickel on May 13, 2012
Speculative fiction, YA
An Angel appears out of nowhere…a young girl, wandering along a country path inFlorida, in her possession, but no memory. When the Masons find the lost girl, they name her “Angel” for the letters on her bracelet and soon she becomes part of the family.
The Mason collect stray children, including a set of twins who are older than Angel, and a younger boy, Zack, who holds onto Angel’s heart and appreciates her fascination with magical creatures and her reading tree. Eight years pass, and at fourteen, Angel has made a new life, albeit one with a gaping hole.
As much as Angel is infatuated with mythical creatures, Zack loves nature and bugs, and shows her a beetle. Promising to help identify it, Angel visits the library and instead discovers that a new boy, Gregor, has come to town. Gregor unlocks the missing pieces of Angel’s life by taking her “home” to a place of myth and mist, like Glockamorra or Brigadoon.TochIslandis “sort of” inIreland; “hidden” so it can’t be taken over by technological development, a place where the Empowered do not have to hide their Talents. It’s a place where the magical creatures are true, Elves live and make music, and dangers are real, so real that Gregor has lived as an orphan since the age of ten after the evil Dawric killed his family. Angel stays with Gregor while her memories gradually surface and she relearns her Talent. But Gregor harbors secrets. Is she safe with him? Where are her parents? And what about the new murders in the community?
Chapters are interspersed with scenes of concurrent events that build like pieces of a puzzle. Each chapter and segment has a title that hints at what’s to come.
Although the teens seem too young to live on their own, Heckenbach’s deft handling of the characters feels rich and fully alive. Gregor knows his duty and is ready to fulfill his destiny, and Angel reunites Toch as no one else can.
The author’s word choices are bright and succinct, in voice appropriate to age and magical world. There are instances of danger and murder and resulting emotions that children younger than sixth or seventh grade might find disturbing. Occasional long segments of description and internal thought, months spent relearning Angel’s identity, were sometimes slow but fascinating, and an end that flies up your face shouldn’t disrupt the great pleasure of immersing yourself in the world of Toch, the Empowered, and a future full of bright possibilities and dreams that will come true.
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