Cyrus entered the Draev Guardian Academy with two secrets: that she was half-human and that she was a girl. That is at least one secret too many, and secrets have a way of coming out. At that point she’ll need forgiveness, or at least luck. In Strayborn, E. E. Rawls tells a school story. The school’s children have nature-bending abilities and familiar archetypes: the bully, the outcast, the cool kids. Even so, the central characters feel real and stir emotion. The world, cleverly tethered to our own, mingles fairy races with contemporary accoutrements of engines, guns, and lattes. Dialogue is sometimes unconvincing, and Cyrus’s ability and choice to keep secrets tests credulity. All the same, Strayborn is an energetic, colorful story.
Best for: Middle-grade audiences, fans of Harry Potter and the Wingfeather Saga.
Discern: Two or three people are non-graphically killed, one scene depicts kidnapping and may imply some form of abuse, peril to children, a child’s pet is killed, fantastical racism, some bullying.