Between Light and Dark
by Rian McMurtry

"She bit her lip. Planning to come in here and confront him was one thing. Now she was here. She was actually going to do it, and her stomach was in knots."

High school freshman Angela is one of only two girls on the Lucas Valley High football team. They’re set to play their first game against the mysterious and religious White Hill Christian Academy, but a visceral school bus accident sets in motion McMurtry’s fantasy novel where everything unravels for Angela. Emerging from unconsciousness, she finds herself in a compromising situation with the “creepy goth” boy, Seth. While Seth’s claim of saving her life and suspicions of the bus accident do not convince Angela of his good intentions, Seth is forced to serve time in temporary juvenile detention.

All that is taking place is hard for Angela to absorb, especially as she faces danger from a “kind of death curse” following the accident. But she doesn’t know from whom the danger is coming. Strange situations and perplexing conversations among students and teammates with secretive names mystify Angela as the uncertainty of who is with or against her spirals. There’s also murder and kidnapping in the mix, and Angela is increasingly pitted against dark forces as she learns of special talents among her peers with magic and the supernatural. Before Angela fully understands it all, she ultimately needs Seth more than she cares to admit.

McMurtry’s slim young adult novel is a grim, adventurous, and sometimes humorous read. The narrative is most engaging toward the second half, where key revelations come to light. The first of several novels in a new fantasy series, McMurtry writes comfortably in the genre, infusing his novel with drama, sly teenage wit, and tension among the varied high school characters. With the exception of a few odd and forgettable moments in the novel, McMurtry creates an overall intriguing story for fans of fantasy and young adult fiction that follows a strong female protagonist on a quest of self-discovery.

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