My Familiar – Jenine Wilson

My Familiar
Jenine Wilson
Jensonbooks, 2007
201 pages

I first encountered this book after the author contacted me about using a quote from my own Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal magic at the start of the book. She was kind enough to supply me with a copy, which arrived yesterday–and conveniently I was in need of something to read.

My Familiar is a lovely work of young adult fiction. Nikki, the main character, is a high school student who, upon turning 16, finds that she can no longer touch any member of the opposite sex without getting violently ill–except for her best friend, Robert. In the early chapters of the book we get to see a slice out of Nikki’s life as she goes through the last few days of the school year, deals with the gossip that flies after she has a fight with Robert, and later heads to a party hosted by one of the most popular girls in school.

Simple high school drama, right? Not quite. Remember that whole unable-to-touch-guys thing? Keep an eye on the guys in this story, as they’ve got quite a tale to tell about just why that is. I won’t give away the details (you’ll just have to read for yourself) but Wilson has woven an engaging story that leads up to a great ending. Her characters are interesting people to observe, and the story has some neat little twists in it.

I think my only complaint about the book is that the dialogue is sometimes a bit rough around the edges, and doesn’t sound quite the way someone might talk. However, overall Wilson is a great writer, and she does an excellent job of creating a setting, placing interesting characters in it, and telling the story of what they go through in a way that’s neither too brief nor too wordy. A touch of extra editing would probably help clean the dialogue up, and all told it’s a good effort. It makes me want to at some point pick up Wilson’s first book, The Shadow Within, just for the fun of it.

This would be an excellent book for kids about 4th grade and up into the early teens, especially if the younger ones are precocious readers (though be aware that there is a bit of not too incredibly graphic violence in it). Pagan parents should especially be interested, especially if their kidlets are curious about magic–while as with any fantasy-tinged work the magic isn’t exactly realistic, the mention of familiars can spark more serious conversations. However, the story will appeal to kids from any background–the magic is less pagan and more urban fantasy.

And, for the record, it’s got one of the cutest covers I’ve ever seen 🙂

Four and a half pawprints out of five.

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