(note: I received an advance review copy from the publisher)
As Gock would say, "Please Gods," let "Supernatural Freak" be the start of a paranormal series. (Don't worry--you'll meet the kind, friendly, powerful, and vulture-looking Gock along the way)
At the novel's center is the "supernatural freak" herself, Robyn Wise. Robyn is a self-employed paranormal consultant, working odd jobs, using her pluck and various supernatural skills--including being one of only six people who can read Fairish--to assist those in need.
When we meet her, Robyn is working a job. A Mr. Wilson has hired her to help cure his lycanthropy (a fancy word for "the condition that turns one into a werewolf every full moon). Robyn has contracted with a powerful shaman to assist her, and the shaman has bailed on her. This leaves Robyn alone with Mr. Wilson, just as the moon rises.
As she runs away from the Mr. Wilson-wolf, she slips on a giant puddle of blood, which was drained from a freshly killed Chinese man. Robin notes this fresh horror, then resumes fighting and fleeing.
Mr. Wilson didn't get his cure that night, but the newly killed corpse...that turns out to be a harbinger of bad things to come.
It's time for the once-every-120-year fairy migration, which brings all manner of malevolence to London, and Robyn soon finds herself right in the middle of it.
She's not alone, though. She has her friends James and Susan, brother and sister wizard and witch, respectively. One of James's best friends is the aforementioned Gock, who comes from another dimension. Sir William, the ghost who lives in Robyn's house, brings a great deal of magical power to the team. Then there's Robyn's Uncle Terry, a former stage actor, who now treads only the boards of pubs and homes of easy women.
Even funny, frequently drunk Uncle Terry can lend a hand when the time comes.
As "Supernatural Freak" moves on, the action picks up, as Robyn and her friends fight aligned evil forces to save a young boy's soul, each team member finding new powers and strength along the way.
"Supernatural Freak" as a book in many ways parallels the story it tells. It begins interestingly enough, starts to pick up even more momentum, till finally racing toward its climax, and a satisfying conclusion. Along the way, we're introduced to the book's mythology--the various Fairies, demons, trolls, werewolves, Chinese Zodiacal Animals, etc--and how various magical races interact with one another.
This novel feels designed more for adults than young teens, and frankly, it's nice to read a novel with post-pubescent characters, none of whom begin the novel by moving to a new high school. It was a pleasant change.
Underlying "Supernatural Freak" is a wry sense of humor. When you have a prim and proper ghost of a Duke rubbing elbows with a frequently drunk former actor, you can only imagine some of the comedic sparks that fly (the funniest clashes are still between Robyn and her fussy French mother).
The novel is set in London, and there is a definite British twist to many of the proceedings, even a dream guide wearing a bowler hat and carrying an umbrella.
In many ways, it's hard to describe "Supernatural Freak" in a few hundred words--many things happen, people change, interpersonal dynamics shift. Probably the best way to sum things up is with Robyn's own self-description:
I was born a supernatural freak. My whole life I've been running away from and fighting against paranormal creatures and monsters. For me there were no sleepovers, no parties, I was always the weird kid, the one who actually knew for sure that there were monsters in her wardrobe.
In many ways, Robyn is still the weird kid. The difference now, is that she's made peace with her uniqueness. And she's learned how to party.