The first in a series, The Awakening of Leeowyn Blake is a young adult fantasy that tells the magical tale of a teenage girl who is not only trying to find her place in the world, but literally trying to find out which world she belongs in. Leeowyn lives in sunny Florida with her mother, until the fateful day of her fourteenth birthday, when a man claiming to be her uncle knocks on the door. The man has yellow eyes and red hair, just like Leeowyn, which convinces her that he must be related to her. After explaining that her father is dead, he tells Leeowyn he has come to take her back home, the home her mother took her from long ago. For the next four years, she splits her time between living with her mother in Florida during the summer and her uncle the rest of the year. Exactly where her uncle Cyle lives, however, is a mystery throughout most of the story. Cyle picks her up every September and during the drive to the family estate, Leeowyn always falls asleep and is never actually able to track her journey.
During the winter months she lives with her Grandmother and uncle and studies in the vast library. She befriends a girl named Peach and meets a boy named Alex, a potential romantic interest, but interspersed with the sameness of daily life, Leeowyn has nightmares about a dead girl holding a raven, and she’s convinced the girl is trying to tell her something important. It is only on her eighteenth birthday that she discovers why everyone in her uncle’s house has been so secretive: Leeowyn is actually a Guardian and she is about to “awaken,” or come into her powers. And her duty as a Guardian is to save the world, actually worlds, from the evil Ruok. This startling news and what follows makes for a truly fast-paced, page-turning read, as Lee realizes that she faces a truly difficult decision.
Although the story feels familiar, I found the characters to be engaging and likeable. Leeowyn feels like a real teen with real teen problems, not the least of which is how to handle her growing attraction to Alex. Her uncle Cyle and tutor Rodrick add a sinister air to the story, as the chapters alternate between Lee’s first person voice and the other characters’ third person point of view. There is clearly something going on that Lee is unaware of, although her recurring nightmares and her friends’ odd behavior should be enough to tip her off that everyone is keeping secrets from her. My only complaint with the story is Leeowyn’s use of pop culture references, which for some reason pulled me out of the fantasy world I wanted to stay in (although I understand why she did it.)
The book is short and the ending abrupt, and I’m sure I’m not the only reader who got to the last page only to cry “What? That’s the end?” I immediately wanted to start the second book, which I hope Ms. Parker is hard at work on.