This Side of Magic
Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton-Jones
Starscape (Tor), Apr 28 2009, $3.99
The hedge abetted by magic protects the residents of Morgantown from supernatural creatures like the evil Boggarts whose queen plans to invade the town and then the world. Meanwhile best friends Penny and Luke visit their neighbor Mr. Leery, who asks them to watch his cat Mr. Mo as he attends a funeral of an associate; they agree.
The kids meet a strange fifth grader who wants to see Mr. Leery. When Mr. Mo goes berserk the weird kid flees. Mr. Leery returns and explains to the two kids that they are apprentice keyholders, a job that Penny accepts while Luke wants to decline. Mr. Leery explains he is the last of three keyholders who insure the hedge magic remains strong to keep the Boggarts out; they and someone else will replace him and his two late associates after two centuries on the job. As Penny connects with Kirin the sarcastic unicorn and Luke with Dracula the baby dragon, they learn the third keyholder is the snob Natalie who connects aptly so with Buttercup the rat, and the weird kid is a Boggart spy. Though not ready the three fifth grade keyholders must prevent the Boggart hordes from invading Morgantown.
The first Keyholders’ urban fantasy is a fun often amusing thriller. The tale starts off a bit slow as the players are introduced, but the pace picks up once Mr. Leery leaves town. Penny and Luke are likable kids while affluent snob Natalie is not. The apprentice trio has some humorous moments as they battle the Boggart spy and attempt to prevent the invasion to the delight of elementary school age readers.