by Sarah Rees Brennan
Recommended Ages: 14+
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Book 1 of “The Lynburn Legacy” introduces us to Kami Glass, a teenaged girl of mixed Japanese and English ancestry who lives in the Cotswolds village of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Since she was a baby, Kami has had an imaginary friend named Jared who talks to her in her head, telling her all about his make-believe life in America. Even into high school she continues to converse with this secret voice, though she has increasingly learned to hide it from her concerned parents and her weirded-out friends. Then one day the surviving members of the Lynburn family, the old lords of the manor, come back into town—and one of them turns out to be a boy named Jared, who grew up in America believing that the voice in his head was an imaginary friend named Kami.
It turns out to be kind of scary to discover that the voice in your head is a real person, sharing your thoughts and feelings from half a world away. Once she starts getting to know the real Jared, Kami isn’t so sure she wants to share head-space with him. The real Jared comes across as a sullen loner, always getting into trouble and barely tolerated even by his mother, uncle, aunt, and cousin. On the other hand, having a sturdy young fellow ready to run to your rescue the moment you even think you’re in danger proves handy when, for example, somebody pushes Kami down a well.
Kami’s lifelong hometown—a quiet place seemingly without secrets—suddenly reveals itself to be a dangerous place. A place where animals are brutally sacrificed in the woods, and where magic is at work—magic even darker and more disturbing than whatever links Kami and Jared. Now both youngsters must work out just what it means that neither of them can truly hide from the other, and whether they really want to go on this way. They seem to have a choice about it. But the people who offer them the choice also seem to have a purpose of their own: a hunger for power that will not stop short even of murder.
Kami, Jared, and their family, friends, and neighbors, fill out a cast of interesting and believable characters—every one of whom is, at some point, a plausible suspect in a creepy mystery involving sorcery, sacrifice, and a grim type of slavery. While the plot is thrilling and terribly serious, the moment-by-moment details are fraught with laugh-out-loud humor and romantic undercurrents that, finally, flow around a surprisingly dark and tragic bend. But don’t bail out now. The Lynburn Legacy continues in a second book, the recently-released Untold. Sarah Rees Brennan is also the author of the Demon Lexicon trilogy and, with Justine Larbalestier, the teen-vampire novel Team Human.