Illustrated by Mike Cavallaro
Ages 9 to 12
First Second books, 2010, 978-1-59643-279-6
Aliera has a very quiet life. She does not have many friends, she is not popular in school, and she has never been on a date. She spends much of her free time at her fencing school, practicing her parries and lunges. Recently Aliera’s mother – who loves to buy things in junk shops, thrift stores, and yard sales – bought Aliera a second-hand foil with a large fake looking jewel on the hilt. Though the jewel looks pretty tacky, Aliera likes the foil. It balances well and at $2 it was a bargain. She has no idea that the foil has been entrusted into her care for a specific reason.
Not fitting into any of the cliques at school, Aliera is a “loner,” which suits her just fine. Then she goes into tenth grade and a new boy comes to the school. Avery Castle is gorgeous, and Aliera is instantly attracted to him. Of course, she believes that he is out of her league, so she tries to “forget him.” She is not pleased when she is partnered with him in biology lab, and she does her best to “protect her heart” just as she does in her fencing classes. Unfortunately she is unable to fend off Avery’s charms, and she comes to realize that she is “in love” with him, worse luck.
When Avery invites her on a date, Aliera is thrilled and terrified. This is going to be her first date ever. What should she wear, what should she do? Aliera arranges to meet Avery in the train station, and before he even gets there the date becomes bizarre, to say the least. When she puts on her fencing mask, she is able to see strange beasts and creatures flying and walking around her. A beautiful fairy like person tells Aliera that she is the “Defender,” that she was handpicked to protect the
Seelie Court from its enemies. When Avery arrives on the scene, Aliera learns that he is not what she thought he was. In fact, he is not even human.
This graphic novel will enthrall readers who enjoy fantasies and mysteries. Readers will enjoy seeing how poor unpopular Aliera discovers that she is more than just an awkward girl who knows how to fence. She has a gift, and she is important.
With a beautifully told and illustrated story, this book is a must for graphic novel fans.