Title: Legacy of the Claw
Author: C. R. Grey
Bailey Walker is excited to be heading to Fairmount Academy, the most prestigious school in the kingdom. And he’s also terrified that his secret will get out. In a world where everyone is kin to some kind of animal—Horse, Dog, Bear, etc—Bailey has not Awakened to his kin. He might not even have one. Fairmount offers more than a chance for an education for Bailey. One of the professors used to be famous for his work with the animal-human bonds, and Bailey is hoping for a miracle.
But a dark shadow has never left the kingdom since the assassination of its previous monarch. The people are restless, leaderless, unhappy. And the surviving daughter of the king intends to take her father’s place . . .
I really enjoyed this book. The animal-human bonds were fun because being “kin” to a creature means a connection with all of that kind of creature (eg, all owls) and perhaps a special bond with one in particular. So there are a lot of animals running around in the book, living life right alongside their human kin (yes, even the bears). Kids will Awaken to their animal kin sometime between nine and eleven, which makes twelve-year-old Bailey incredibly embarrassed not to know just yet. And he’s afraid he might also be one of the ones with an Absence, a total lack of kin-bond, which has a tendency to drive the afflicted insane.
There’s also a bit of steampunk thrown in for good measure, though it’s certainly not the main focus of the plot. I loved Phi’s little project, though. I also liked how the big game at this school is a variant of Capture the Flag, with rules that completely make sense (think paintball plus a soccer-like structure of forwards, midfields, and goalies).
The bigger political story unfolds slowly, and I think it helps tremendously to see things from Viviana’s viewpoint as well as the much younger Bailey and Gwen. Viviana is a somewhat sympathetic villain, which underlines her lack of remorse. The world overall was a bit weak; I wasn’t sure if Aldermere is the entire world, or simply the name of the nation, and the history tended to stop at about twenty years previous. But there’s certainly room for more in the future, as this is the first book in a series, and from the look of things Bailey will probably be traveling a great deal in days to come.
Overall this was a lot of fun. My only regret is that since the book is so new there isn’t even word of a sequel yet. I rate this book Highly Recommended.