Aldwyn is an alley cat, used to surviving by his wits. While escaping from a bounty hunter, he accidentally ends up in a store filled with magical animals and is adopted as a young boy’s familiar. Aldwyn finds he very much enjoys Jack’s company, and is desperate to keep his non-magical status a secret – a task that becomes ever more difficult when all of the apprentice wizards are kidnapped and Aldwyn must band together with two other magical animals -an illusionist blue-jay and a visionary frog – to save the children.
This was a solid introduction to a new series. The characters are likeable, if a bit tread-worn (a spunky hero, a know-it-all female, and a goofy sidekick. Can’t think where I’ve seen that combination before…) The magic system is interesting, with hints that later books in the series will further explore the human magic vs. animal magic paradigms. The plot twists were carefully foreshadowed. Kids who read a lot may see some of them coming, but I suspect that the major twists will be a surprise to most readers.
There are numerous places were the book was quite humorous, which will help a lot in its appeal. I’m doing my best not to be a nit-picker when it comes to throw-away laughs (Gilbert the frog cannot get flies stuck in his teeth, because he doesn’t have teeth!) The action was well-paced as well. Overall, a solid, though not stellar, addition to the genre, and one that most fantasy-loved kids will eat up.