The Exceptionals

Erin Cashman. Holiday House, $16.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8234-2335-4
The long shadow of Harry Potter looms over Cashman’s debut, a fantasy novel set at Cambial Academy, a boarding school for “special” students who can see the future, move objects with their minds, and so on. The idyllic school has a dark past: a former teacher once tried to subvert students for maniacal schemes. Fifteen-year-old protagonist Claire Walker presents herself as an ordinary girl at a school of freaks, but it’s a lie. Claire understands animals’ thoughts; she just won’t admit it. While other students work on honing their “specials,” Claire wanders in the woods, meeting a mysterious guy named Dylan who questions her relentlessly, but slips away before anyone else sees him. When the school’s top students begin disappearing, the pressure is on Claire to master her repressed “special” and discover the truth about Dylan. It’s a pleasant read, and while too much derives from the Potter universe and superhero teams like the X-Men, Cashman knows how to craft natural dialogue and empathetic characters. Ages 12–up. Agent: Erica Spellman-Silverman, Trident Media Group. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 02/01/2012
Compact Disc - 978-1-60998-819-7
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