Dreamwalker

C.S. Friedman. DAW, $19.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7564-0888-6

Friedman (the Magister Trilogy) launches a series with this dimension-hopping, genre-bending adventure that will appeal to both adults and teens. After a DNA test reveals that 16-year-old Jesse Drake isn’t related to either of her parents, she begins investigating her true heritage, only to learn that she might not even be human and that other “changelings” are dying in freak accidents all over the world. When her house is destroyed and her brother kidnapped by mysterious beings, Jesse and her newfound changeling friends travel to a parallel Earth and discover a society built on magic and extradimensional exploitation. To get home, they will have to challenge the powerful Guilds, who control all passage. Friedman skillfully blends science fiction and fantasy elements, tying them together with fairy tales and solid worldbuilding, but both the magic-driven alternate world and the romantic undercurrent feel too familiar. The bulk of the book is aimed at laying the groundwork for a much larger story, albeit one laden with potential. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (Feb.)