Saxten was winded. He lay on hard ground. His eyes were closed, but he saw sparkles behind his lids. Gradually he became aware of birds singing and his own breathing as it slowed. The air smelled a bit strange – not bad, just different.
‘Are you hurt, boy?’ It was the voice of the old man.
He opened his eyes to slits. ‘No, I’m all right, I think. The wolf?’
‘Severo will have to find his own way back,’ the man said triumphantly. ‘I closed the portal behind us.’
Saxten thinks he’s a fairly ordinary boy, despite being unhappy at his new school, but when he starts being followed by a big dog that no one else can see, he doesn’t know what is going on. Then, when a man appears in a painting his family has always owned – and, again, only Sexton can see him – Sexton gets scared. Soon, though, his fear turns to disbelief when the man starts talking to him and tries to get Sexton to come with him to escape the dog. Sexton’s life will never be normal again.
Severo’s Intent is the first title in the new Shapeshifter series, part of Scholastic’s Fantastica imprint. Its short length, with a high-action plot makes it ideal for readers new to the fantasy genre, as well as reluctant readers who might be deterred by longer fantasies.
Young readers will look forward to the next instalment in the series.
Severo’s Intent, by Fiona McIntosh